WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Voters will "rise up" in opposition if Republican power brokers try to take the presidential nomination away fromDonald Trump or Ted Cruz at the GOP convention this summer, Sarah Palin said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview.
The 2008 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press that GOP voters have the right to decide the party's nominee and will rebel if House Speaker Paul Ryan or some other "white knight" is chosen at a contested convention. Ryan said this week he will not seek or accept the nomination.
Palin said voters know better than to be fooled by party leaders.
"How dare they?" Palin asked, denouncing "arrogant political operatives who underestimate the wisdom of the people."
If party leaders try to intervene at the July convention, "we will rise up and say our vote does count, our activism does count," she said.
Palin said she is not convinced by pledges from party leaders that the GOP nominee will be chosen from among those running for president.
"There are some snakes in there," she said of party leaders. "I've had to deal with the political machinery my whole career."
Palin said she plans to attend the convention in Cleveland, but she conceded that she may have to "invite myself to the party."
"I can't see any of them inviting me," she said of party leaders. "I think they are afraid of what I would say."
Palin, who has endorsed Trump, said she is confident he will win the GOP nomination, but said she can support Cruz if he emerges as the nominee.
She said she backs Trump because he is "so reasonable and so full of common sense and knows that for America to be great again we have to develop our natural resources" such as oil and natural gas.
While some GOP leaders worry that Trump's disparaging comments about women, minorities and others have him struggling in the polls with key voter blocs, Palin said Trump would be the GOP's strongest nominee. Trump has created the "big tent" that party leaders have long been seeking, she said, citing the billionaire businessman's appeal to independents and "blue dog Democrats" in the South and other rural areas.
Palin said she was not concerned about some of Trump's comments about women, saying she has known him for years "and I know the respect he has for women."
Trump "doesn't have high-paid consultants and pollsters and spinsters trying to spin him into something he's not," she said. "He takes advice from strong, confident women in his life, like his wife and daughter."
While Palin said she could support Cruz, she said it was "unfortunate that he has people around him who are not truthful. I sure want to believe it's the people around him and not Cruz as a person who would flip-flop on so many issues," including trade and immigration.
"He was there at the border incentivizing illegal families coming on over the border with gift baskets of soccer balls and teddy bears and now he says he was never for amnesty. Yes, you were, dude, come on," Palin said.
The former Alaska governor was in Washington to promote a new documentary that seeks to debunk what it calls myths and hype about human-caused global warming. The movie, "Climate Hustle," questions whether there is a genuine scientific consensus about global warming and features more than 30 scientists who reject mainstream climate science.
Palin said she wants viewers "to feel empowered to ask questions about what is being fed them by the scientific community." The movie opens May 2.
On other topics, Palin said Ryan has failed as House speaker because the House has not approved a federal budget as promised. And while she said she does not regret staying out of the presidential race, she did not rule out a possible presidential bid in the future.
"If I can trust that the electorate is as fed up as I am with the shenanigans and the corruption and the crony capitalism ... and can handle a true outsider, then you know that the time would be right" to run for president, she said.
Ryan on Tuesday afternoon emphatically ruled out a presidential run or accepting the Republican nomination.
"I want to put this to rest once and for all," Ryan told reporters at the Republican National Committee. "Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination."
Ryan then directly addressed delegates who will head to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July who are ultimately responsible for choosing the party's nominee.
"If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only choose from a person who has actually participated in the primary. Count me out," he said. "I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee -- to be the president -- you should actually run for it. I chose not to do this. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. End of story."
For a third time in the same statement, Ryan repeated, "So, let me say again, I am not going to be our party's nominee."
The Wisconsin Republican said he's focused instead on offering a conservative vision for the country.
But asked how this is different from his initial refusal to be speaker of the House and then accepting the job, Ryan argued that that comparison is "apples and oranges... being speaker of the House is a far cry from being president of the United States."
This comes after several months of speculation that he would jump into the GOP presidential race at some point and after weeks of speculation that he could accept a nomination at a contested convention.
It's also not the first time Ryan has said no.
Asked by The Hill newspaper last month whether he could foresee any scenario in which he could be the GOP nominee, he said, "No, there isn't. 'No' is the answer. Definitively."