CLEVELAND, Mo. — Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman picked up a celebrity endorsement, as former Alaska governor turned reality TV star Sarah Palin gave the conservative Republican her seal of approval in a campaign event on Friday.
Nearly 1,000 people turned out for the Steelman campaign event at a berry patch in Cleveland. But the majority of people on hand on Friday say that they weren’t there to hear Steelman – in fact, some didn’t have any idea who she was.
“It’s an opportunity to come out and see Sarah Spellman (sic) and Sarah Palin, and I’ve always been very found of Sarah Palin and her conservative views,” said attendee Kevin Sharpe of Drexel.
But despite the lack of name recognition among some in the crowd, Steelman’s endorsement from Palin – a conservative lightning rod and the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate in 2008 – is doing the Steelman campaign some good.
“Yeah, I am sweating up here and I know sombody is going to YouTube it and so be it,” said Palin to the crowd in the sweltering August heat. “It’s part of working hard and doing the right think and standing for your next United States Senator, Sarah Steelman.”
Steelman says that she appreciates the endorsement from Palin, who has backed few other candidates in this year’s primary election cycle.
“It is an honor that she is willing to come in and help me,” said Steelman. “You know she just confirms my conservative credentials.”
Democratic political analyst Jason Grill credit a surge in Steelman’s poll numbers over the last week to TV, radio and print endorsements from Palin.
“We’re in these close races where every little bit counts,” said Grill. “I think her coming in and getting involved in the statewide state elections is huge.”
Steelman still trails St. Louis businessman John Brunner in the polls, but Grill says that he predicts that Steelman will come out ahead in next week’s primary. But after that, he says that Palin’s endorsement could end up hurting Steelman in the general election in November, when she must be able to reach out to independents and moderates who aren’t influenced by Palin’s endorsement.