At rural blueberry patch, Palin rallies supporters for Steelman

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman for a barbecue in Cleveland, Mo., on Aug. 3, 2012. (PoliticMo Photo)

CLEVELAND, Mo. — At a blueberry patch in rural Cass County, former Republican vice presidential candiate Sarah Palin rallied supporters behind U.S. Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman.

“We have a candidate that actually has a solid conservative record,” Palin told hundreds of supporters. “She has had the guts to go against the grain.”

Palin’s visit came within days of the Aug. 7 primary, when Steelman will challenge U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and former St. Louis businessman John Brunner for their party’s nomination to take on Democrat Claire McCaskill in November.

Palin did not mention the names of Steelman’s two rivals, but her most heated jabs appeared to be pointed at Brunner, a first time candidate who has pulled significant support from farm groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Pointing to critical ads from the Chamber and Brunner, Palin said the party’s “establishment” looks worried.

“She may not have the Republican Party establishment’s blessing,” Palin said, “but that is a blessing.”

Steelman, in a speech introducing Palin, said she would “kick the door down” on the Republican establishment, and pledged not to be part of the “good ol’ boy’s club.”

After speaking, the two served food and posed for photos with supporters.

In an interview after the event on Friday evening, Steelman said she had never before met Palin. The endorsement came last month after Steelman sent Palin a letter seeking her support, she said.

On Saturday, Steelman will continue a campaign swing through southwest Missouri. She plans to end her day in Springfield at an event sponsored by the Greene County Republicans, where both of her opponents are expected to be present.

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