Sarah Palin's Star Shines On John McCain

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Sarah Palin and John McCain in Tucson Friday. Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Sarah Palin made her own news this week with the announcement of a reality TV show called Sarah Palin's Alaska. Her political action committee is also targeting 17 vulnerable Democratic members of Congress who voted for the health care overhaul — including three from Arizona. Darren Hauck/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Darren Hauck/Getty Images

The losing 2008 Republican presidential ticket is back on the campaign trail. John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning together in Arizona this weekend as McCain faces a serious challenge from the right of his own party.

Palin was the big draw for the couple-of-thousand people Friday afternoon at the Pima County Fairgrounds outside Tucson, where she and McCain stood before the throng.

She didn't mention McCain's move to the right in recent months, trying instead to bring the crowd into the Tea Party fold she embraces.

"You know what?" Palin called out to the audience. "Everybody here today supporting John McCain, we are all part of that Tea Party movement."

Palin said the four-term senator's reputation for going against the grain — sometimes against his own party — proves he is still the outsider Tea Party supporters want.

"Before there were protests on Main Street or marches on Capitol Hill, there was the maverick of the Senate, fighting for us," she said. "John's been leading the fight against waste and fraud and reckless spending for decades."

Voter Bill Hallett listened — not yet convinced, but hopeful. "Maybe we can switch him over a little bit more to the conservative side," Hallett said.

If Palin's conservative credibility rubs off on McCain, it could mean trouble for McCain's opponent, former congressman and radio talk show host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth bills himself as the "consistent conservative." He says Palin's support is just political payback.

After all, McCain introduced then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the nation less than two years ago. Since then, there have been books and magazine pieces recalling friction between the McCain and Palin camps. But the two say that was just campaign carping. McCain's wife, Cindy, even told the crowd that she and her husband are still friends with the Palins. The senator echoed that.

"I want to tell you again, when Sarah and Todd agreed to join me and Cindy on the ticket, she energized America and she still does today," McCain said to the crowd. "I'm proud of Sarah Palin, and I know you are, too, to have her continue speaking out for the things we believe in."

McCain continued, seizing on health care and vowing to continue the fight. "We're going to take on this Obamacare, and we're going to take it on in the courts, because it's unconstitutional," he said.

"We're going to take it on in voter registration and, my friends, we're going to take it on Nov. 10, when we take back the House and Senate."

But before that happens, John McCain must first win his own party's primary in August. The latest poll has him only 7 points ahead of Hayworth. McCain has a lot more money, however, and he also has the support of other big-name conservative Republicans. Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown have already campaigned for McCain in Arizona. Expect Palin to be back, as well.



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