Donald Trump is pulling out all the stops to secure a victory in Iowa's Caucuses, which take place February 1. A victory in Iowa will give him a commanding lead and real momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination going into the New Hampshire Primary February 9.
Polls show that Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are neck and neck in Iowa; so securing just a few additional votes may mean victory. That is where former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin comes in. Her enthusiastic and rambling endorsement of Trump on Tuesday could make the difference for the real estate mogul and former television host.
"Are you ready for a commander-in-chief, you ready for a commander-in-chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS's ass?" Palin raved as Trump looked on. "Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs, and to secure our homes? Ready to make America great again, are you ready to stump for Trump? I'm here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump." Palin peppered her endorsement with phrases like, "No more pussy footin' around," and "they won't be able to be slurping off the gravy train."
Praising Trump, the man who wrote The Art of the Deal, she added, "quit footin' the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we're paying for some of their squirmishes (sic) that have been going on for centuries. Where they're fightin' each other and yellin' 'Allah Akbar' calling Jihad on each other's heads forever and ever. Like I've said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out."
Trump and Cruz have been skirmishing with increasing intensity for a victory in Iowa. Cruz is popular among Iowa's evangelicals, who make up a large portion of caucus goers. A recent poll shows that he has the support of a third of the likely evangelical Republican caucus voters, while Trump has about 20%. "Palin's brand among evangelicals is as gold as the faucets in Trump Tower," Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told The New York Times. Palin's endorsement just may close the deal for Trump.
The Cruz campaign suffered another blow Tuesday when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, said he wants to see Cruz defeated. "It would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him," Branstad said at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. "And I know he's ahead in the polls but the only poll that counts is the one they take on caucus night and I think that could change between now and then." Labeling Cruz a "big oil" candidate, he predicted, "As Iowans learn about his anti-renewable fuel stand, and that it will cost us jobs, and will further reduce farm income, I think people will realize that it's not in our interest."
A victory in Iowa for Trump would put him in the driver's seat. Recent polls show that he has a sizable lead in New Hampshire among likely Republican voters. Polls show he also enjoys a large lead in the South Carolina GOP Primary, which takes place February 20, and he has opened up a huge lead in Florida's March 15 Republican Primary, a winner-take-all state, according to a newly released poll.
A win in Iowa depends on voter turnout. But a Trump victory there could trigger a tsunami of primary victories that will secure him the Republican nomination. Even his detractors within the GOP are beginning to accept that he may be their standard bearer next November. "He's going rogue left and right," Palin said in her speech. Soon he may be taking the entire Republican Party along for the ride.