Trump receives key endorsement from Sarah Palin

FILE - In this May 31, 2011 file photo, Donald Trump walks with former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin in New York City. The Republican presidential front-runner Trump received a key endorsement from conservative heavyweight Sarah Palin, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump received a key endorsement Tuesday from conservative heavyweight Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor and former running mate of Sen. John McCain in his 2008 bid for the White House, endorsed the billionaire businessman, according to a statement released by his campaign.

“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement,” Trump said in a statement. “She is a friend, and a high quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support.”

The endorsement comes less than two weeks ahead of the critical lead-off Iowa caucus, where Trump is locked in a dead heat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Palin was a virtual newcomer to the national political arena when McCain named her as his running mate but has since risen to prominence as one of the most outspoken conservatives in the party.

She signed on as a Fox News commentator after resigning as Alaska’s governor in 2010, a job she held until last year.

Palin is the highest profile endorsement Trump has received to date.

“I’m a big fan of Sarah Palin,” he said earlier Tuesday as rumors swirled over the identity of a key upcoming endorsement, touted by his campaign.

While Trump said he doesn’t typically put much stock in endorsements, he said, “I think it could very well result in votes.”

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