Tom Smart, Deseret News
When former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin officially endorsed Sen. Orrin Hatch earlier this week, she took to her Facebook page to deem Utah's senior senator "Mr. Balanced Budget" and shed some light on her decision.
“Orrin Hatch is part of the 1 percent,” Palin wrote. “No, not that 1 percent you’ve heard about. He’s part of the 1 percent of national politicians who I think should be re-elected."
But in the wake of Palin's endorsement, several of her supporters have been aggressively criticizing the decision to back Hatch over his opponent, former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, ahead of the Beehive State's June 26 primary.
"Instead of staying out of the race, Palin has proactively sided with the ridiculous Beltway barnacle Orrin Hatch, who now poses as a tea party godfather while launching bitter diatribes against the fiscal conservative members of Freedomworks," conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote shortly after Palin revealed she is endorsing Hatch. "Palin has lent her invaluable support to many upstart candidates seeking to disrupt the old GOP boys’ network. I have the utmost respect for her. But on this inexplicable Hatch endorsement, we’ll just have to agree to disagree."
Further illustrating that some Republicans feel uneasy with Palin's latest endorsement, the Los Angeles Times published an article Thursday afternoon with the headline "Many Palin fans not fond of her support for Orrin Hatch."
"Expected by many to support Hatch’s first serious challenger, Dan Liljenquist, Palin instead posted a long defense of Hatch on her Facebook page Wednesday," the Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian reported. "But those words prompted an outcry from many of her supporters, who left scathing comments on her Facebook page. Many wondered why Palin would choose a fusty veteran over a fresh challenger."
The conservative National Journal Online posted an article Thursday that provides details about how Hatch persuaded Palin to give him her backing.
"It’s an unlikely, politics-fueled friendship that’s fit for a Robert Caro book," National Journal Online's Robert Costa wrote. "Hatch, a soft-spoken grandfather, is one of Palin’s top outside mentors. He encourages her and cheers her. They share family stories, they discuss history, and they talk about legislation. Hatch openly acknowledges that he has long and doggedly sought Palin’s support. For him, strong personal relationships are an elemental part of politics. In the Twitter and Facebook era, they became political allies the old-fashioned way: through handwritten letters and personal phone calls."
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