While Palin has characteristically kept her cards close to her chest, advisers suggest that the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is likely to endorse before someone emerges as the inevitable nominee — and that Newt Gingrich appears to be best-positioned to secure her support.

“They speak very favorably of Newt and what they see as his credentials as compared to Perry and Romney,” one member of Palin’s inner circle said of the former Alaska governor and her husband, Todd, who has long served as her unofficial chief adviser.

Gingrich has been particularly effusive in expressing his admiration for Palin over the last few months, and she has returned the favor by heaping praise on the former House speaker.

“Newt Gingrich again, I think, did the best because he seems to be above a lot of the bickering that goes on,” Palin said on Fox News after a Republican debate in Las Vegas last month, adding that Gingrich would “clobber” President Obama in a general election debate.

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