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Letter from America

What Sarah Palin’s comeback bid says about the modern Republican Party

Now the GOP has abandoned the bipartisan politics of her former running-mate John McCain, Palin has firmly embraced Trumpism in her run for Congress in Alaska, writes Holly Baxter

Tuesday 16 August 2022 21:30 BST
‘Save America’: Palin at a rally in Alaska last month
‘Save America’: Palin at a rally in Alaska last month (AFP/Getty)

There’s nothing like a spate of primaries and an upcoming midterm season to remind you of how big the United States of America really is.

This week, all eyes are on Alaska – home of Sarah Palin – and Wyoming, home of Liz Cheney. These are two very different politicians with very different ideas. Palin, whose rise to fame as the gaffe-prone running mate of John McCain, has made a comeback after being officially endorsed by Donald Trump. Trump’s trashing of McCain – who was a popular, bipartisan-minded Republican and veteran, as well as a close friend of Joe Biden – lost him Arizona in 2020, when it flipped to blue. The 45th president referred to McCain, who was a Republican Arizona senator at the time, as a “loser” and added that “he’s not a war hero… I like people who weren’t captured”, when an audience member at an event brought up McCain’s years spent as a prisoner of war.

It was a puzzling move, because McCain was an unusually beloved senator. After his death, the Democrats ran hard on McCain’s friendship with Biden, and the state flipped. It’s something Trump should’ve seen coming, and could have quite easily headed off by backing the right candidate. But it seemed that pride got in the way of “Cadet Bone Spurs” yet again.

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