WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is due to arrive here this week on a one-day visit to Israel, a vital stop for potential Republican U.S. presidential candidates.
The visit, seen as a bid to show Palin has some foreign policy prowess, is intended to up her potential though her popularity among Republicans appears to be declining. On her website, Palin said she will be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She thus follows in the footsteps of other potential candidates, including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and popular Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.
Palin was in India yesterday, and the local press echoed sentiment in the United States. "Either you love her or hate her," commented Aroon Purie, the editor in chief of India Today. He called Palin, who was invited to speak on energy issues, "the sexiest brand in Republican politics." Purie mocked her "creative vocabulary," an allusion to Palin's slips of the tongue and use of non-existent words.
Since leaving her governor's post, Palin has written two books, filmed a reality series on Alaska, made public appearances and serves as a television commentator on Fox News. So far she has not said whether she will run for president in 2012.
When "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank proclaimed the month of February to be his personal moratorium on Sarah Palin-related news, one of her aides just shrugged, saying, "I wish him good luck with that." The journalist admitted he has a "Sarah Palin problem," and said he had mentioned her in 42 columns since she became the Republican vice presidential candidate in the last elections.
Despite Milbank's choice, every tweet about Palin, every event she attends or doesn't show up for and any hint that she may run for president in 2012 has received extensive coverage.
In his March column, Milbank wrote about his Palin-free month, saying he had nothing to worry about, because "Palin was not going to make real news in February, or, most likely, at any other time. At most, she was going to make noise - enough to earn that $1 million Fox pays her a year."
As the elections trail heats up with the fund-raising events and discussions about potential 2012 candidates, the attacks aimed at Palin have grown harsher.
Palin is expecting a warm reception in Israel. The Alaska native is likely to garner headlines and get a photo-op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sorely needs a break from the regional turmoil.
Palin wrote on her website: "I'm thankful to be able to travel to Israel on my way back to the U.S. As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel."
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