After Rising to Fame on McCain's Coattails, Palin Tries to Save His Political LifeNow Palin is repaying the favor, putting her prestige on the line in an effort to help the four-term Arizona senator overcome his toughest re-election challenge ever.
Now McCain is fending off a primary challenge from former congressman and conservative talk-radio host J.D. Hayworth, who is a darling of the Tea Party, whose support McCain hopes Palin can undercut.
McCain, who built his career on a reputation for being a maverick and working with Democrats on major issues such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restricting campaign donations, has made a notable shift to the right as he fights for his political life.
Hayworth is hoping to topple one of the Republican Party's best-known figures by reaching out to conservative activists. He has tried to define himself as "the consistent conservative" in contrast to the "maverick" McCain.
Before Hayworth left his radio show to enter the race, he used the airwaves to attack McCain's congressional record, most notably his work with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on a bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
And he points to a Facebook page, Sarah Palin Supporters for JD, as evidence that he has the edge on the Tea Party vote.
Peter Mirijanian, former adviser to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, said he believes Palin could make a difference for McCain, but he added that the Hayworth campaign is responding just right to her endorsement.
"Which is Palin is coming to speak on behalf of John McCain because she feels obligated to do so because he put her on the ticket, but her heart is really with us," he told Fox News.
Palin has criticized McCain's presidential campaign since their loss, saying in her book "Going Rogue" that there was substantial tension between her advisers and McCain's. She said she was kept "bottled up" from reporters during the campaign and was prevented from delivering a concession speech on Election Night.