In a departure from her pattern of anti-incumbent, tea party-backed picks in 2012 GOP primaries, Sarah Palin endorsed six-term Sen. Orrin Hatch ahead of Utah's upcoming nominating contest.
"He's part of that one percent you hear about," Palin said during a Tuesday appearance on Fox News' "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren." "Not the one percent that's mocked and criticized in the press lately, but the one percent of national politicians whom I believe should be re-elected."
Hatch is up against former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in his bid for a final term in the US Senate. While Liljenquist does not identify himself as a tea partier, he has received the backing of tea party group FreedomWorks. Although the tea party failed to oust Hatch from the primary all together, the longtime senator will still face a tough challenge from Liljenquist next month.
Palin, while abstaining from running for office herself, has made a string of endorsements in contentious Republican primaries. Most notably, she put her weight behind Deb Fischer, a tea party-backed Senate hopeful whose victory in Nebraska's primary earlier this month surprised many within the GOP.
She made a similar pick in Indiana's primary when she endorsed tea party candidate Richard Mourdock. Mourdock, too, pulled off an upset, defeating 36-year incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar.
During the Fox News interview, Palin conceded that her pick in the race may not align with her fellow conservatives' choice.
"My endorsement will differ from others," she said.
Utah's primary is on June 26.
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