Palin going to Haiti; many think she’s polishing presidential credentials

Brett Michael Dykes
National Affairs Reporter
The Ticket

Recent reports out of Haiti have painted the earthquake-devastated nation as nothing less than hell on earth. To make matters worse, violent protests broke out this week in response to that country's recent elections. In short, the country is in the middle of a period of unprecedented chaos and upheaval. Enter former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Palin -- fresh off of a public feud with Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin -- will visit Haiti this weekend with televangelist Franklin Graham as part of the outreach of his Samaritan's Purse relief organization. A Palin aide told the Associated Press that she'll be joined on the trip by her husband, Todd, and daughter Bristol.

"I believe Gov. Palin will be a great encouragement to the people of Haiti and to the organizations, both government and private, working so hard to provide desperately needed relief," Graham said in a statement.

Many political observers see the trip -- in addition to rumored visits afterward to England and Israel -- as part of an effort by the Palin political team to bolster her foreign policy credentials in advance of a possible 2012 run for the presidency. Making the trip with Graham could also help boost Palin's standing with evangelicals, a group that -- despite her reputation as being a Christian conservative -- she hasn't really connected with on a grand scale.

Politico's Andy Barr writes:

"First, it provides an opportunity to expand her image and policy portfolio beyond her limited image as a darling of the tea party movement.

"Second, she'll be able to better establish her claim to evangelical voters if she chooses to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of Palin's potential 2012 rivals, in the early 2008 GOP primaries and caucuses."