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Jun 13, 2010 5:15 PM by Chris Welty

Palin More Pragmatic Than Friends & Foes Expect

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Sarah Palin the political pragmatist? Go
figure.
With a few surprising endorsements in recent Republican
primaries, the self-styled rogue of GOP politics has reaped an
angry response from some of her own supporters and a fresh round of
speculation about her own presidential ambitions in 2012.
"Man, what a terrible choice in Iowa, S is
bothersome. "There's room for criticism (all around)," Blakely
said. "If you're not willing to call it where you see it, that's
useless."
Blakely said she believes Palin will endorse the most
conservative candidate she can. But when there's a party
establishment candidate in the running, or one who had some ties
with the McCain-Palin 2008 ticket, "she'll go with that," Blakely
said. She points to Palin's pick of Fiorina - who is "not
conservative" - as an example.
"You never really know WHY she's endorsing someone," Blakely
said. "It's almost becoming a nonfactor."
Whatever the impact on her wider public, Palin's endorsement
translates into crowds and valuable media attention for her
preferred candidates, and her message - flowing via her social
networks - reaches millions of people.
Arkansas state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe said she was "thrilled" to
get Palin's endorsement, even if it came in the last days of a
tough congressional primary race that she wound up losing. "It
came when it came, and I was glad to get it whenever it came," she
said.
She said friends of hers who knew Palin sought an endorsement on
her behalf and that she learned of it, shortly before everyone
else, with a call from Palin. (At first "It was more me just
thinking, Is this REALLY Sarah Palin? Then I heard the cadence of
her (speech) and I knew.")
Palin's endorsement is "the Good Housekeeping seal of approval
for conservatives," said Julie Soderlund, a Fiorina spokeswoman.
But the campaign has yet to decide whether it will seek Palin's
help in the fall, when independents and Democrats will be
listening.
Even in Republican primaries, it is difficult to gauge the
impact of Palin's help.
Three of the four contenders whom she endorsed in last week's
round of primaries won, including front-runners Brandstad and
Fiorina.
Palin campaigned for the third, South Carolina state Rep. Nikki
Haley, who scored an unexpected first place finish in the
gubernatorial primary and will compete in a runoff on June 22.
"We need change," said Peggy Brooks, 43, an accountant who
voted for Haley. While Brooks considered Palin's support important,
she said her vote was motivated more by a desire to stand up
against attacks on Haley's character during the race.
Haley faced unproven allegations of an affair. Those claims
caused Sara Perry, 63, to change her vote from Haley. Too bad, too:
"I love Sarah Palin," Perry said.
Palin campaigned for Haley in South Carolina, one of the few
candidates she's taken to the road for. Her involvement turned off
A.J. Dance.
He'd been torn between Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen but,
"When Sarah Palin showed up, I was like, No,"' the unemployed
24-year-old from Columbia, S.C., said. "She's poison."
And some endorsements seem more personal than business.
Palin endorsed long-shot candidate Joe Miller in his effort to
unseat GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a member of the Senate
Republican leadership who would fit Palin's definition of "mama
grizzlies."
"You don't want to mess with moms who are rising up," Palin
said at the Susan B. Anthony List event last month. "If you
thought pit bulls were tough, you don't want to mess with mama
grizzlies."
Palin trounced Murkowski's father in the gubernatorial primary
in 2006. Lisa Murkowski challenged Palin's widely debunked claims
last year about "death panels" in the health care bill.
Like other potential presidential candidates, Palin has donated
to Republicans. As of the end of March, her political action
committee had given $55,000 to candidates and committees, including
Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul and Vaughn Ward, an Idaho
House hopeful who lost to a tea party favorite last month.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC gave $43,600 by
March 31. Mitt Romney leads the way, however, as his Free and
Strong America PAC gave $147,572 over a period ending in April.

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