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Sarah Palin just endorsed Donald Trump, giving a middle finger to the GOP establishment

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Donald Trump has led Republican primary polls for more than six months, but he's had few endorsements to show for it.

But on Tuesday, he finally landed one big name — former Alaska Gov. and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

"I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president," Palin said in a statement first reported by the New York Times's Maggie Haberman, issued shortly before the two were to appear together at a rally in Ames, Iowa. (In another statement, Trump called Palin "a high-quality person whom I have great respect for.")

Palin's star has faded since she burst onto the national scene in 2008 with her tumultuous 10-week stint as the GOP's vice presidential nominee. She hasn't held elected office since resigning the governor's office in the middle of her term in 2009, instead dabbling in reality TV and making an aborted attempt to launch her own paid internet subscription channel.

But she's remained an active commentator on political issues throughout the Obama era — and has gradually grown more and more hostile to the GOP establishment that she feels so badly mistreated her. All of this has naturally culminated in her endorsement of the ultimate anti-establishment candidate, Donald Trump.

But Palin has also supported outsider candidates like Ted Cruz through her political action committee Sarah PAC, so her decision to back Trump over Cruz — in a move timed to make the maximum impact on the February 1 Iowa caucuses — will be a disappointment to Cruz as well.

Though polling has shown that Palin is well-liked among Iowa Republicans, it's far from clear that her endorsement will convince any of them to actually vote for Trump. Still, she's undoubtedly the most famous Republican to endorse Trump yet, and this news ensures that the Donald will dominate headlines for yet another of the few remaining days before the voting starts.

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