Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said Monday it would be "great" for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to run for president in 2012.
"She would be a great thing for the Republican primary process," said Romney, a 2008 presidential candidate and a potential candidate again in 2012. "It'd be a good thing for her to get in."
Romney, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) have all rallied around Palin, who on Sunday night condemned suggestions that GOP operatives in Washington were looking to stall any potential presidential aspirations she might have.
"The story is nonsense. Because first of all I know Sarah Palin pretty well, and if she wants to run there's not going to be any Washington elites stopping her," Romney told conservative talker Laura Ingraham on Monday on her radio show.
Steele, who's appeared on the campaign trail with Palin at times this fall, told her critics to "shut up."
"You know, these Republican leaders who don't put their names in print but make comments in shadows need to shut up," the RNC chairman said Monday morning on CNN. "We're focused on winning elections tomorrow night."
A spokesman for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate, said Palin deserves credit and thanks for her work for the Republican Party.
"We're all on the same team, and anonymously sourced stories that try and divide us exemplify one reason why Americans outside the beltway hold D.C. in such contempt," said Alex Conant, the Pawlenty spokesman.
Another 2008 candidate also came to her aid.
"The reality is I think that's terrible," Giuliani said on Fox News. "I worked for Ronald Reagan. The 11th Commandment was don't criticize another Republican. Let's not start this presidential race before this one is over."
Palin is seen as a potential candidate in 2012, and she's started the process of opening the door to running in two years by saying she would enter the race if there were no other good candidates involved.
While Romney could be an opponent for the GOP nomination, it makes sense for he and others to support her now given Palin's power with grassroots conservative voters who will play a large role in determining the 2012 Republican nominee for president.
Polls find that voters are still wary of her qualifications for the top political office, though. Twenty-seven percent of registered voters told an ABC News/Washington Poll survey last week that she was qualified to be president, while 67 percent said she was unqualified. (Slightly better for Palin was the 55-40 percent advantage she enjoys among conservatives, who largely make up the Republican primary field.)
Palin on Sunday lashed out at the media — a regular target of hers — for publishing reports suggesting conspiracies by the GOP establishment to usher her out of the 2012 race.
"That's why I don't talk to some of these reporters who are part of this yellow journalism world of not using named sources," she said Sunday evening on Fox News. "I think it's very unprofessional."
This story was updated with additional information at 11:58 a.m.