Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley to hold joint rally at State House - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley to hold joint rally at State House

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is endorsing only woman candidate for governor in South Carolina and bypassing the politician who has spearheaded Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential primary campaign in the state.

Palin and Haley, both Republicans, will appear together at a public event at 5:30pm at the State House in Columbia. It's Palin's first campaign stop in South Carolina, since she did not travel to the Palmetto State during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"It is a tremendous honor to receive Governor Palin's endorsement," Haley said. "Sarah Palin has energized the conservative movement like few others in our generation. She has helped millions of Americans find the power of their voice. I am extremely proud that she has offered her support to my candidacy." 

Haley, an Indian American and state representative from Lexington, badly trails her three Republican rivals in cash for the race and has only been able to get broad television exposure this week with the help of ReformSC, a group that bought television time statewide and spending a reported $400,000 on ads.

Haley's campaign cash at the end of March was a third of her rivals, including apparent race leader and state Attorney General Henry McMaster, a former state GOP chairman and Ronald Reagan's first appointee as a state federal prosecutor.

There's always a lot of debate about whether endorsements really matter, but in a primary race that's a little more than three weeks away, the name of the game is getting your name in front of voters and creating a media splash. Bringing Sarah Palin in is usually pretty effective in accomplishing that.
It'll be interesting to see what kind of crowd Palin draws on 24 hours' notice, if Palin helps Haley make national news and if that exposure brings in more contributions for her campaign.

Palin has been popular with tea party activists, a group central to Haley's campaign. But Palin also riled those conservatives last week when she endorsed former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in California's U.S. Senate race over their favorite, Chuck DeVore.

Palin will also be in Charlotte Friday at a NRA event.

Palin's endorsement may be a disappointment for Attorney General Henry McMaster, regarded by most as the Republican likely to earn a runoff birth because of his relatively high profile in state politics for close to two decades. That includes helping lead Arizona Sen. John McCain's South Carolina presidential primary campaigns. Palin was McCain's running mate.

In an interview with The Associated Press last month, McMaster said his first choice to hit the campaign trail with him would be late President Ronald Reagan. Among the living? "I'd love to have Sarah Palin come in," McMaster said.

"We admire Governor Palin and join folks across the state in welcoming her to Columbia," McMaster spokesman Rob Godfrey said in a text message.

A former McCain staffer now working for a McMaster rival noted the twist.

"It's got to be a real gut-punch for the McMaster campaign on account of him serving on McCain for president," said B.J. Boling, a state McCain campaign spokesman who now works for rival U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett's gubernatorial campaign.

Behind in money or not, Haley keeps accruing visibility that other candidates are finding hard to match.

Before the Palin event Friday, Haley was scheduled to campaign stops with former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford in Charleston and Myrtle Beach and private events in Charleston and Hilton Head Island.

Haley's campaign may have been on better footing had it not been for Republican Gov. Mark Sanford's fall from grace. Haley remains a favorite for him, but Haley quickly distanced herself from the disgraced governor after he skipped the state for five days last June and reappeared to tearfully confess a yearlong extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. It wrecked his marriage, political career, brought a the first formal rebuke from the House in state history and resulting investigation led to record setting ethics fines.

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