ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports:
With a possible eye on a 2012 presidential run, Sarah Palin has just joined potential GOP rival Mitt Romney in backing Republican Terry Branstad for governor of Iowa. The state’s primary takes place Tuesday, June 8.
Read Palin’s endorsement HERE. Branstad, one of five ex-governors around the country who wants his old job back, is running against businessman Bob Vander Plaats who enjoys the backing of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses.
The third Republican gubernatorial candidate in the race is Rod Roberts.
Palin is endorsing Branstad even though Vander Plaats is the one who has taken the harder line against the state’s court-recognized right to same sex marriage.
Vander Plaats is promising to issue an executive order halting gay marriage in the state. Branstad does not believe that such an executive order is legally permissible and says that he wants to do what 31 other states have done which is to vote on a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary will face Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, who is seeking a second term.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht tells ABC News that there was no courtship of Palin.
The Branstad camp learned that Palin was going to back the ex-governor when she called Branstad’s campaign office earlier today and told, Leo, the person who answered the phone, that she was planning to make the endorsement on her Facebook page.
Branstad, who was giving a speech in Jefferson, Iowa, at the time, was slipped a note informing him of the Palin endorsement.
He then announced the news to the crowd.
Palin and Branstad have never met before. But a Branstad spokesman says that the former governor has read Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue.”
Branstad did not endorse any presidential candidate in 2008 but his son worked on Romney’s campaign. Branstad recently told Politico’s Jonathan Martin that Romney wouldn’t be punished were he to not go all-in in 2012 as he did in 2008.
“I think he should play in Iowa, but he maybe overplayed in the last go-round,” said Branstad, who will play an influential role in the 2012 presidential caucuses should he win in November.
In a separate interview with ABC News, Branstad said that he views Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who recently opened the door slightly to a presidential run of his own, as a model for the type of cost-cutting governor that he wants to be. Branstad added that he is not playing favorites — at least not yet — when it comes to 2012.
ABC News’ Kristina Wong contributed to this report.