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Sarah Palin's Embrace Of Ron Paul Is A Major Moment In Right-Wing Populism

Sarah Palin shocked many Republicans this evening with her defense of Ron Paul, whose non-interventionist foreign policy and purist libertarianism have made him a pariah inside his party. "Ron Paul evidently has some other ideas on how he's supporting Israel," she said charitably.

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Palin said that "Ron Paul isn't necessarily the one to strengthen our military," but then launched into a defense of the Texas congressman on an issue that sets him at particular odds with his party.

"He's taken the opportunity to correct some of the misperceptions that are out there about him. He came out the last couple of days talking about how pro-Israel he is," she said. "He just wants to go about the protecting of our ally in a different way than most of us would want to.... Ron Paul evidently has some other ideas on how he's supporting Israel."

Palin's support for Paul was conditional. But if she decides to wed her outsider constituency to him, it would give Paul -- and his ideas -- a measure of legitimacy with the conservative grassroots he's been struggling for years to find.