Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Palin praises the Trump, Cruz campaigns; but won’t endorse yet

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin showed her enthusiasm for the GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz during a sit-down with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

The one-time Republican vice presidential nominee played a game of word association with the presidential candidates, which featured some of her characteristic put-downs. For instance she deemed Sen. Marco Rubio “robotic” and simply said “George” when asked about the former president’s brother Jeb Bush. She described Sen. Bernie Sanders as a “crazy cat who lives up in the attic.” Her response to Hillary Clinton’s name was a little more opaque, she said “Nyquil.”

Palin was much more glowing in her assessment of the two men who have appeared atop most national and Iowa primary polls as of late. “I’m not going to pick one right now, but what a nice problem to have if it come down to Cruz and Trump,” Palin told Tapper. “That’s a good problem for voters to have, because we know that, as you say, they are both strong and very decisive and someone who would take the initiative. That is what we need today, and both of those candidates would fit that bill.” She added that her daughter Willow Palin is already in the tank for Trump.

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Previously, Palin had come out in support for many of Trump’s early incendiary statements in the campaign and she stuck up for perhaps his most polarizing position – his call for a temporary ban on Muslims’ entry into the United States – in her interview with CNN. She claimed Trump never got to “finish his thought.” 

“The reaction right from so many of the bat, kneejerk reaction, was typical of the media, not you necessarily, but the media was to jump all over it like it was such a negative. And I wanted to say, not speaking for Trump, but I wanted to say let him finish the conversation!,” Palin told Tapper. “We do have a very screwed up system that is resulting in the bad guys coming over.”

“I think that Trump was trying to finish the conversation that would lead to a pause on immigration in general, Jake. I think that’s where he was going,” she added.

Palin, who has a penchant for riling the Republican establishment and who in the past has floated the idea of supporting a third party insurgency from the right, warned that the GOP must heed the message of the Trump campaign and its supporters or face a potential revolt. “The Republican Party’s got to do a better job of exerting independence,” she said.

Still, Palin joked that the 2016 candidates probably don’t want her stamp of approval anyway. “Not if they’re smart!” she said.

Meanwhile, Trump, who enjoyed an infamous New York City “pizza lunch” with Palin in 2011, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a role for her in a theoretical future cabinet.

“One of the things I most admire so much about her is that she took so much nonsense, lies, disgusting lies,” the real estate mogul said in July. “And she handles it so well. She’s tough and smart and just a great woman.”