June 9th, 2010
09:45 AM ET
12 years ago

Clinton and Palin winners without running


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/09/art.clintonspeech.gi.jpg caption =" Former president Bill Clinton is being credited with helping Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas survive a Democratic Senate primary runoff Tuesday."]

Washington (CNN) - They weren't on the ballot, but Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin are two of the biggest winners in this latest round of primaries.

The former president is being credited with helping Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas survive a Democratic Senate primary runoff Tuesday.

"President Clinton called me tonight when it was clear we were going to win and said, 'Blanche, you're the new Comeback Kid'," Lincoln said in an email to supporters.

Lincoln topped Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter 52 percent to 48 percent, after both candidates were forced into the runoff after neither broke the 50 percent mark in a three way primary contest last month.

Clinton, an Arkansas native who served as governor for 12 years before winning the 1992 presidential election, is still very popular in the state. He campaigned with Lincoln at a rally in Little Rock on May 28. Last Friday, Lincoln's campaign began airing a TV commercial that highlighted Clinton from that event.

The 30-second spot featured video of Clinton quoting from a Washington Post article that said that national labor unions had decided to make Lincoln "the poster child for what happens when a Democrat crosses them."

Titled "The President," the ad closes with Clinton telling the crowd that "if you want to be Arkansas' advocate, vote for somebody that will fight for you."

Lincoln's victory makes it two for Clinton when it comes to his impact on elections. The former president campaigned last month for Mark Critz, the Democratic candidate in the last month's special election to fill the late Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha's Pennsylvania seat. Critz defeated Republican Tim Burns.

When it comes to endorsements, Palin went three for three in Tuesday's statewide contests. The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee's endorsement last month of state lawmaker Nikki Haley in the South Carolina GOP gubernatorial contest arguably helped that candidate's rise in the polls. On Tuesday, Haley far outpaced her three male rivals. But Haley fell just shy of capturing 50 percent of the vote, forcing her into a June 22 runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett, who finished a distant second at 22 percent.

Palin recorded an automated phone call urging Republicans in South Carolina to vote for Haley and was featured in one of the candidate's television ads. In the robocall, Palin tells voters she is "calling on behalf of my good friend, and a brave and strong conservative woman, Nikki Haley."

Palin was also one of Haley's staunchest defenders in the wake of two separate allegations of infidelity that were fired at the candidate, saying that Haley's rivals were attacking her with "made-up nonsense to try to knock you down."

Palin also recorded a robocall for Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO who easily won California's Republican Senate nomination. Fiorina captured 56 percent of the vote in a three person field, far ahead of former Rep. Tom Campbell and state assemblyman Chuck DeVore. In the Fiorina robocall, Palin said she wanted to "….help get our country back on track" by supporting her.

Palin's endorsement of Fiorina last month irked some Tea Party activists in the state who backed DeVore. Fiorina attended some Tea Party meetings in the last few weeks trying to build up her support among that group.

In a speech to the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List last month, Palin defended her endorsement. "Some wanting to accuse her of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only), I say no, no. There in the deep blue California, she is unabashedly pro-life, and all those other common sense conservative things that she stands for. She's the real deal. And I appreciate you, too, being bold enough and strong enough to take a stand in that race and to take a stand in so many of these races across the country."

Palin's endorsement of former Gov. Terry Branstad over Bob Vander Plaats, considered by some to be the more conservative candidate in Iowa's gubernatorial primary, also rubbed some conservative activists the wrong way. Branstad won the GOP nomination, topping Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: 2010 • Bill Clinton • Sarah Palin
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    From what I read, Palin jumped on rising bandwagons in many of these races. She is an opportunist with little knowledge of governmental workings. "her Candidates" ? Hardly

    June 9, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Tony

    Palin is a big winner and so are we for having her!!!

    June 9, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. No Stock

    I don't put stock in anything either one says.

    June 9, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Political Dean

    Considering that all of Palin's endorsements listed here were exactly the same as Mitt Romney's- who did it months before her in most cases, I think he is the winner. She draws crowds and headlines, but he provided the political support and money (especially to Haley) early on. The loser is Huckabee who saw his endorsements in SC and Iowa go nowhere.

    June 9, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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