WASHINGTON -- Sarah Palin’s political stature has faded in the years since she bolted from politics.
Her endorsements in 2010 were powerful, and helped her chosen candidate gain media attention, grassroots donations and conservative credibility. Two years later, that influence had waned. Now, during the 2014 election cycle, mere mentions of the former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor are likely to be met with a sarcastic “Who?” in response.
But Palin is far from an anonymous bystander. While Republicans may have moved on to newer conservative champions, Democrats still see a benefit in bringing her up. On Monday, the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released its first ad against Iowa Republican Senate nominee Joni Ernst. (The DSCC itself has already put out an anti-Ernst issue ad.) And the ad is hardly subtle in its efforts to tie her to Palin.
“We have faith in Joni…She is the right one,” Palin says at the start of the ad, in footage taken from the press conference she held to announce her endorsement of Ernst during the Republican primary.
“I was just absolutely ecstatic to have her endorsement," Ernst says after. "Those are the types of people we need in our federal government."
A DSCC official told The Huffington Post that the Ernst ad will be “part of a multi-million dollar buy statewide,” and is the first in a series of ads that will run from now until Election Day.
Portraying Ernst as a Palin acolyte has been a basic theme of Democratic attacks dating back to the primary. Environmental groups are doing it too. But as Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small notes, a lot of the comparisons between the two are based on hope rather than substance. Rarely mentioned is the fact that establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney have endorsed Ernst too.
Still, Palin remains a dynamo for Democrats, encouraging interest, facilitating donations, getting voters excited -- just as she did for Republicans in 2010. So it’s not a shocker that she’s being featured in these ads, though it is surprising that it's taken this long. According to a national Democratic operative, this is the first time that Palin has been used in a DSCC ad to attack a Republican running for Senate.
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