The last time Sarah Palin and Donald Trump shared a stage together, the former Alaska governor gave a meandering endorsement speech that displayed her inventiveness with the English language — and her instinctive connection to the Republican base.
She spoke of “right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions and our Constitution” and railed against “squirmishes” abroad. It was 20 minutes of vintage Palinisms: “He’s going rogue left and right” — “No more pussy footin’ around!” — “Doggone right we’re angry!” — “us Joe six-packs.” BuzzFeed published the transcript in full, calling it “bizarre.”
Beneath the malapropisms and the circumlocutions, though, Palin turned out to have a shrewder feel for Republican voters than those in the press who scorned her, and who underestimated him.
Palin’s endorsement of Trump in January 2016 gave him credibility on the populist right at a crucial moment, though it didn’t put him over the top in Iowa, where Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the caucuses that year. The move even briefly fueled speculation that the two might form a ticket — him the brash, unpredictable New York billionaire; her the snowmobile-drivin’, moose-huntin’ Mama Grizzly from Wasilla. Tabloid dynamite!