Former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Saturday gave her full-throated support to an extended GOP presidential primary, arguing that a long race will help, not hurt, the eventual nominee.
Her comments, made during a high-profile appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, rebuts the concerns of many Republicans that a longer primary will hurt the party’s eventual nominee in the fall against President Obama.
“As if competition weakens our nominee,” said Palin, whose well-received speech was routinely interrupted by applause from a boisterous audience. “Yet in America we believe competition strengthens us. Competition elevates our game. Competition leads us to victory in 2012.”
The ex-governor of Alaska didn’t mention any of the candidates still seeking the nomination by name, much less offer an endorsement. But she did urge the audience to pick a candidate “who can instinctively turn right to constitutional conservative principles.”
“It’s too late to teach it or to spin it,” she said. “It’s either there or it isn’t.”
The call for an “instinctive” conservative seems like an implicit criticism of Mitt Romney, whose past support for gay and abortion rights, and signing of a Massachusetts law requiring individuals to buy health insurance, have convinced some Republicans that he is a moderate at heart.
Palin, whose endorsement is one of the most prized in the GOP, has been coy toward the GOP race: She’s praised former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but stopped short of an official endorsement. Her husband, Todd, has endorsed Gingrich.