Palin was one of the first and most high-profile Republican figures to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. She threw her support behind him before the Iowa caucuses that year, which Trump lost to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. .
But the connection between Palin and Trump goes much deeper than just an endorsement.
Consider how Palin positioned herself as governor of Alaska and as John McCain’s running mate in 2008. She ran expressly against the Republican establishment. She lashed out at the press and positioned the mainstream media to catch her. She regularly strayed from political norms—”going wild” she called it—and she touted her willingness to do so as evidence that no one owned her.
Palin planted and maintained the seeds of Trumpism. She was, in many ways, Trump before Trump.
What Palin did was prepare the bomb for Trump. Ultimately, he lost his bid to beat the party system, but in doing so, he prepared many voters for the external message that Trump touted during the 2016 presidential race.
There is a tendency to see Trump and his successful 2016 campaign as sui generis. Which built a movement based on anti-establishment rhetoric and unconventional political tactics where it never existed before.
That just isn’t accurate. Nearly a decade before Trump’s candidacy, Palin was setting in motion the elements — mistrust of the media, indictment against the Republican establishment — that were at the core of Trump’s candidacy and his appeal to Republican voters.
What Palin clearly hopes now is that the ground she once carved out for Trump will remain fertile enough for her to be elected to the House. Having Trump on board with her should take her a long way toward that goal.