COLUMBIA, S.C. - It wasn't an endorsement, but Sarah Palin gave Newt Gingrich the next best thing on Tuesday, saying she would vote for the former speaker -- if she lived in South Carolina.
Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee declared Gingrich the winner of Monday night's Republican debate, comparing his performance to boxing legend Joe Frazier.
"He came out there swingin', talking about work," Palin said. "Talkin' about jobs and work ethic and how government needs to get out of the way in order for Americans to have a sense of opportunity to work, and I think that's what a lot of voters have been craving to hear."
Asked if she was any closer to giving an endorsement, Palin told the Fox News host that she could only tell him what she'd do if she were a South Carolinian. "If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt, and I would want this to continue." Such a position indicated her desire for the political vetting to keep unfolding.
"I want to see this thing continue because iron sharpens iron, steel sharpens steel," she said. "These guys are getting better in their debates, they're getting more concise. They're getting more grounded in what their beliefs are and articulating what their ideas are to get the country back on the right track and get Americans working again."
Palin's husband, Todd, endorsed Gingrich just over a week ago -- a move his wife called "rogue" when asked for her comment.