Bristol Palin’s presence in next week's Dancing With the Stars finals has sparked much debate in regard to one of this season’s lowest-scoring couples dancing off against consistently high-scoring competitors Jennifer Grey and Kyle Massey. Many thought Brandy, who was just eliminated, was a shoo-in to reach the finals, but now speculation is rife that a political rally by supporters of Bristol’s mom, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, helped Bristol make the finals. Those rumors are something she and partner Mark Ballas are quick to dispel.
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“A lot of the votes are coming from fans who know what this show is truly about,” says Mark. “It’s about taking someone that has never danced before and turning them into a dancer. People at home are like, ‘That is exactly how I would be if I were on the show.' They are not going to sway the vote for any other reason other than they enjoy the performance.”
“I totally agree,” adds Bristol. “I don’t think it has much to do with my mom’s political background at all, and it’s ridiculous to say they are all pulling together and campaigning for me. Obviously, there are more supporters out there voting us in.”
There’s no denying Bristol has improved. Week one saw Bristol receive 18 out of 30 for her first dance, while last Monday she received 27 out of 30 for an intense paso doble. “I am thrilled,” Bristol told In Touch after her previous performance. “The thing with the show is most people come from an entertainment background,” says Mark. “Bristol is normal. I have had a Cheetah Girl, Shannen Doherty, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Kim Kardashian and now Bristol Palin. So taking a non-dancer and turning her into one is amazing.”
But does Bristol deserve to be there? According to her competitors, absolutely. “I think everyone deserves to be here,” says Kyle. “We have all worked our butts off.” His partner, Lacey Schwimmer, agrees: “It doesn’t matter what the scores are — everyone deserves to be here.”
Brandy’s elimination may have come as a shock to DWTS dancer Derek Hough, but he’s happy that Bristol and Mark made it through. “We all thought Brandy would be in the finals,” says Derek. “But you can’t take this away from Bristol. To see her story, that journey is pretty phenomenal.” His thoughts are echoed by frontrunner Jennifer: “Bristol has improved enormously.”
According to Bristol, there was one castmate who thought she didn’t deserve to still be there. And after Bristol told In Touch, Maksim Chmerkovskiy is clearing the air. “With my persona, a lot of things stick,” admits Maks. “Like most recently, Bristol thinking that I didn’t like her. I never said it. I just want people to know I am just a dancer here, and I express my opinion when someone dances.” Bristol was pleased with Maks admission, “That’s good, good to know,” she said
One thing's for sure: Bristol will have her work cut out for her next week. This marks the first time pals Mark and Derek go head-to-head in a finale, which adds some serious pressure for Bristol. “I didn’t know that until just now,” she tells In Touch. “I am just so thrilled and thankful that Derek and Jennifer and Kyle and Lacey are who we are going against, as we are all so positive."