One day after getting a sort-of endorsement from Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich returned the favour this afternoon, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the former Alaska Governor and Tea Party princess would “play a major role” in his administration if he is elected.
In an interview on Blitzer’s The Situation Room, Gingrich stopped short of offering Palin a Cabinet post, but lavished praise on she and her husband Todd, who went rogue and actually endorsed Gingrich earlier this month.
Here’s Gingrich, via the CNN transcript:
“Certainly, she’s one of the people I’d call on for advice. I would ask her to consider taking a major role in the next administration if I’m president, but nothing has been discussed of any kind. And it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss it at this time. I’m just delighted that she and Todd have been both of them so supportive of my candidacy. And they recognise that, you know, I’m a Tea Party Reform conservative. I’m not part of the Washington establishment. And I think that’s the signal that her endorsement last night really sends.”
Although Palin herself has not officially endorsed Gingrich, she told Sean Hannity last night that she would vote for the former House Speaker if she were a South Carolinian “in order to keep this thing going.”
“I would want this to continue,” Palin said. “More debates, more vetting of candidates, because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted to the degree that he should have been, so that we know who his associations and his pals represented and what went into his thinking.”
But even the sort-of endorsement could be a boon for Gingrich, who is enjoying a slight surge in South Carolina polls. Palin’s support solidifies Gingrich’s position as the sleeper Tea Party candidate, and puts him in the position to win over socially conservative, right-wing voters that make up a key chunk of South Carolina’s Republican base.