Sarah Palin a Potential Kingmaker for GOP Candidates

Since Sarah Palin announced days ago that she would not run for president, underdog GOP candidates are seeking to solidify Tea Party support with an endorsement from the former Alaska governor.

Herman Cain, once considered a long shot, has climbed in the polls to become a top tier candidate. He beat Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the recent Florida straw poll. Determined to be more than the Republicans' flavor of the month, Cain is currently seeking a Palin endorsement.

His campaign spokesman, J.P. Gordon, was once a scheduler for the Tea Party leader. Gordon told The Christian Post, "Clearly an endorsement from Gov. Palin would be very helpful." So far, he said, "The campaign has been in touch with her."

Rick Santorum, the third runner-up in the Values Voter Summit straw poll, told CP that he is also reaching out to Palin. Santorum said he "would absolutely love her help."

Palin is set to become a kingmaker, since she told supporters in a letter that she would not seek the 2012 GOP nomination for presidency.

Prior to the Oct. 5 letter, Palin toured the country and built a devoted following. A September poll showed Palin trailing Barack Obama by only 5 percent in a fictitious presidential bid against the president.

A June Rasmussen poll showed that 49 percent of Tea Party members believed a Palin candidacy would be good for the Republican Party.

However, the poll also showed that 45 percent of all respondents said a Palin candidacy would be bad for Republicans.

"I think people are relieved that, alright, this is the field that we have – I think we've got a strong field – and the process goes forward," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said.

Candidates currently seeking the Republican nomination in the 2012 race include Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Perry, Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Santorum, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Conservative leaders applauded Palin for finally reaching a decision, but also recognized the former vice presidential candidate's followers could change the nomination race.

"With [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie and Sarah Palin hanging out there, there were a lot of folks who were sort of waiting to decide what to do," Santorum said. "We’re hopeful that in some of these early primary states, we’ll have the opportunity to get a second look, or in some cases, a first look."

Gingrich, meanwhile, told Fox News, "I think any candidate would like to have her (Palin’s) endorsement."

Palin hinted in her letter to supporters that she does plan to be influential in the 2012 presidential race.

"I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office – from the nation's governors to Congressional seats and the presidency."

Gingrich told the cable network that his campaign is also reaching out to Palin, but stated, "My hunch is that she's going to wait a while and may not endorse anybody for a while."