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Tea party darling Sarah Palin backs Carly Fiorina

May 6, 2010 | 12:57 pm

Hours before the first face-to-face debate among the three GOP candidates vying to replace California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sarah Palin threw her support behind Carly Fiorina.

She made the announcement through a post on her Facebook page.

Palin, the controversial former running mate of Arizona Sen. John McCain, crossed paths with Fiorina on the campaign trail in 2008, when Fiorina served as an advisor to McCain. Some speculated Palin would endorse one of Fiorina’s rivals, Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who is a favorite of tea party groups and has locked down other conservative endorsements, including that of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A wave of disappointed Twitter posts from DeVore supporters followed Palin's move. DeVore spokesman Joshua Treviño sent his own series of Twitter missives calling Palin an “establishment figure.” He also wrote: “Stop panicking over Sarah Palin. She is one. You are many. And you will win. Now get to work."

With a call to “shake it up in California,” Palin praised Fiorina’s tenure as CEO at Hewlett-Packard and said her conservatism was “rooted in real life experience.”  

“Through a combination of hard work, perseverance, and common sense, she proved the naysayers wrong to reach the top of her field, where she led with distinction – facing hard truths, making tough decisions, and showing real leadership through a rocky transition period,” Palin wrote in her post. “Where others had failed, her company had weathered the storm and settled on a stronger new foundation.”

In a statement, Fiorina said she and Palin shared “a common concern for the direction our country is headed under Barbara Boxer and her allies in Washington.”

Democrats quickly jumped on the Palin endorsement as a liability for Fiorina. “As Carly Fiorina famously said, Sarah Palin could not run a company – and that is saying a lot from someone who cut 30,000 jobs and collected a $42-million golden parachute," said Eric Schultz, the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Thursday night’s debate will be taped and will air Sunday at 11 a.m. on ABC stations in California.

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles
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