Former President Donald Trump on Sunday endorsed Sarah Palin in her bid for Congress, saying he is returning the favor after she endorsed him “early” in his campaign for president.
Palin, the former governor of Alaska who was the vice presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008, announced Friday that she is seeking Alaska’s sole congressional seat.
The job has been vacant since the death last month of GOP Rep. Don Young, who held the seat for almost 50 years.
In a statement released through his Save America political action committee, Trump praised Palin for backing him for president in 2016.
“Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big,” Trump said. “Now, it’s my turn! Sarah has been a champion for Alaska values, Alaska energy, Alaska jobs, and the great people of Alaska.”
Trump also had kind words for Young, whom he called “legendary.”
Palin’s running mate 14 years ago, McCain, was a bitter enemy, particularly after he voted to deny Trump’s longtime effort to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law in 2017.
In his statement Sunday, Trump didn’t address the senator directly. McCain, who had survived enemy torture during the Vietnam War, died on Aug. 25, 2018.
Trump, who called Palin an “America First fighter,” said she “lifted the McCain presidential campaign out of the dumps.”
She endured “some very evil, stupid, and jealous people within the campaign itself,” the former president said.
“They were out to destroy her,” he said, “but she didn’t let that happen. Sarah Palin is tough and smart and will never back down.”
Palin, 58, unleashed personal attacks on Obama and admitted she didn’t read a lot during that 2008 campaign. Some believe Palin’s gut-instinct, anti-elite, nationalism-based politics opened the door for the likes of Trump and others, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
McCain said 10 years after his unsuccessful campaign for president that he regretted choosing Palin as a running mate.
Palin is running in a special election that will fill Young’s seat for a few months before a new election is held.
Bridget Bowman contributed.