Updated at 4;50 CST with comment from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Updated at 3:25 CST: Sarah Palin confirmed her endorsement of Trump in a statement to The New York Times.
WASHINGTON– Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is expected to endorse business mogul Donald Trump for president Tuesday evening, snubbing tea party ally Sen. Ted Cruz.
“I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president, ” Palin told The New York Times in a statement provided by Trump’s campaign, just hours before a planned announcement at an Iowa event.
Trump teased a big name would join his supporters. Multiple reports showed Palin traveling to Iowa on a plane used for Trump’s campaign, hinting at the endorsement.
“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement, ” Trump said. “She is a friend, and a high quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support.”
Cruz and Palin have long teamed up on tea party issues. Palin campaigned for Cruz’s 2012 Senate bid, and he credited her support for helping him win. In September, Palin, Cruz and Trump headlined a rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the Capitol. Trump garnered most of the attention.
By November, Palin was already leaning toward Trump, when asked who was standing out among the GOP field.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said Trump was not the kind of candidate a conservative like Palin should back.
Backing Trump “would be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion of the conservative cause and if she was going to endorse Donald Trump, sadly she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life on the sanctity of life, on marriage, on partial-birth abortion, ” Tyler told CNN. “Donald Trump claims he’s changed all those views. But I think if it was Sarah Palin, let me just say I would be deeply disappointed.”
Cruz downplayed the dissapointment after Palin confirmed the endorsement.
“I love Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is fantastic. Without her friendship and support I wouldn’t be in the Senate today, ’ Cruz told our own Gromer Jeffers and other reporters traveling with him in Center Barnstead, NH. “Regardless of what Sarah decides to do in 2016 I will always remain a big, big fan.”
At the endorsement announcement Trump initially avoided bring up Cruz, rattling off a list of new polls showing Trump in the lead.
“I don’t want to be confrontational, ” Trump said.
Palin also skirted Cruz during the announcement.
“Asked why I would jump into a primary, kind of stirring up, and chose one. over some friends who are running and I endorsed a couple others in their races before they decided to run for president. I was warned left and right ‘You are going to get clobbered, ’” Palin said. “I’m thinking yeah, like you haven’t tried doing that every day.”