Washington - Sarah Palin used her considerable conservative clout to endorse Republican Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Senate race Wednesday, but perhaps, inadvertently, threw her support behind John Raese of West Virginia instead.
In the end, the former governor of Alaska, who has been in high demand on the campaign trail and in the endorsement game during the 2010 midterm elections, ended up backing both.
Palin's initial endorsement came via Twitter Wednesday morning, "Pennsylvania: makes sense 2 send GOP 2 DC avoid PA economic disaster that will occur under Obama/Pelosi Cap & Tax scheme: workers need Raese."
Palin either mixed up the states or the Senate candidates here by referring to Pennsylvania but naming John Raese, who is actually the Republican running for the seat formerly held by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Palin later cleared up the matter in a Facebook post, "Cap-and-tax would put the nail in the coffin for our manufacturing jobs in our resource development... The only sure way to thwart this legislation in Congress is to send commonsense conservatives to D.C. ... "rust belt" and energy producing states must get behind good candidates like John Raese in West Virginia, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania..." Palin then goes on to name other Republican Senate candidates she's backing in Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada, Arkansas and California.
Pennsylvania Democrats were also eager to point out the Palin endorsement. "With his poll numbers tanking, Pat Toomey must be really desperate to roll out the endorsement of Sarah Palin," said Mark Nicastre, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. "It just goes to show that Pat Toomey has more in common with Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle than he does with the people of Pennsylvania."
Toomey aides say the endorsement came out of the blue, but they're happy to have it. "Governor Palin is right that the cap-and-trade energy tax would be devastating to jobs and the economy in manufacturing states like Pennsylvania," said Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik. "We've been saying that throughout the campaign."
Palin's comments come as signs suggest that Toomey's opponent, Democratic Congressman Joe Stestak, may be surging. Pennsylvania political watchers say it is evident that Keystone State Democrats have come home and are finally backing Sestak. President Obama and Vice President Biden are also among that group. The White House once schemed to keep Sestak out of the race, instead supporting his primary opponent Senator Arlen Specter. But since Specter lost to Sestak in the Democratic primary election, the White House has changed its tune, and on October 10 Obama and Biden were at a DNC rally in Philadelphia where they urged people to vote for Sestak.
Meanwhile, a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call tracking poll of likely voters released Wednesday shows a dead heat, with former Navy Admiral Sestak leading Toomey 44 percent to 41, within the poll's 5 point margin of error.
Another survey released on Tuesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, gave Mr. Sestak a one point lead, well inside the poll's 3.7 percent margin of error.
Toomey aides tell Fox News they don't put too much credence into the polling, "The polls are all over the place, with most of them showing a good sized lead for Pat Toomey," said Soloveichik. "But the bottom line for Pennsylvania voters is a clear choice between more of the same reckless Washington spending and high unemployment with Joe Sestak, or a change in direction toward fiscal discipline and job growth with Pat Toomey."
However Toomey aides are also downplaying expectations somewhat, pointing to the fact that there are about one million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania.
"We never thought this was going to be an automatic win. It's Pennsylvania, not Wyoming," said one Toomey staffer.
The two candidates will square off Wednesday for a crucial debate in Philadelphia. It is the campaign's first televised debate and will be moderated by ABC's George Stephanopolous.