While national media attention has waned since she opted not to run for president in 2012, Palin has remained a conservative favorite, garnering huge applause at CPAC earlier this year for her speech and helping to boost four out of her five endorsed Senate candidates to primary wins last year. She is set to re-join Fox News as a contributor, after a few months absence. She continues to have a dominant social-media presence on Twitter and Facebook. Today she’s slated to speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference — where, if the past is any indication, she’ll earn thunderous applause.
“She flourishes when she is within her element and among the people who believe in her message and want to hear red meat with a soft touch,” says GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.
“Her support, if anything, has grown,” says Amy Kremer, president of the Tea Party Express. “She’s so down to earth and does what she feels and what she thinks and she doesn’t hold back. She’s not intimidated by the Left or by the establishment.”
In other words, she’s still adored by some conservatives — even if she doesn’t inspire the same amount of coverage from the “lamestream media” that she used to. “She is a rock star to the conservative movement,” Kremer adds. “Of course we have upcoming and rising stars whose profile is growing, such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, but there is no one that excites the base like Sarah Palin.”
Cruz, the freshman senator who has generated plenty of attention as a tea-party favorite, warmly praises Palin. “Governor Palin is a friend and a true patriot,” Cruz e-mails. “I have always admired her passion to defend the Constitution and her courage to speak truth to power.” Nor has he forgotten how her endorsement gave him a boost at a crucial time during the primary: “I will forever be thankful for her tremendous support in my campaign.”
“The time she has spent traveling the nation to support conservative candidates and promote conservative causes reflects her deep love for our country and a genuine desire to see the principles of our Founding Fathers restored,” Cruz adds. “I’m proud to stand with Sarah Palin, alongside millions of Americans who are grateful for her fearless voice for liberty.”
Conway speculates that the intense media attention Palin faced in past years was due to her novelty status — the first Republican woman to be nominated for vice president — and the media’s fascination with the presidential-campaign narrative. But now Palin has proved that she “need not hold public office to make a difference.”
“The Republican party can always use a few more strong-willed female messengers who convey a consistent conservative message,” Conway says. “What’s really lacking in Washington, D.C., and was sorely missing from the 2012 campaign, is that consistent conservatism that she brought to the ticket in 2008 and that spilled over into the tea-party and electoral successes for Republicans” in 2010.
Noting the extreme unpopularity of Congress, Conway muses that Palin’s path has allowed people to “make the argument that you can be more effective as a former insider now on the outside giving advice” than by staying in office.