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12.09.10

Sarah Palin Goes Abroad

Sarah Palin is planning her first real foreign trip—a move that could burnish her foreign policy credentials in advance of a 2012 presidential run.

The Daily Beast has learned that Sarah Palin will be traveling overseas in the new year. At the top of the list: Israel and England, both countries she has said she wanted to travel to in the past. The schedule and itinerary is still fluid, but an overseas trip in 2011 will boost her foreign policy credentials, something she can turn to in a potential 2012 presidential run.

Up to now Palin’s travel outside of North America includes visiting troops in Germany and Kuwait while she was governor and last year she gave a speech on the economy in Hong Kong. During the 2008 campaign, there was some confusion about whether she had also visited Iraq when traveling to see soldiers in Kuwait, but that turned out to be a visit to the border. McCain staffers at the time also said she had visited Ireland, but that was a re-fueling stopover.

Palin has long wanted to visit Israel, and in a recent Facebook post wishing the Jewish community a Happy Hanukkah she reconfirmed her support for the Jewish state: “Today we should all recommit ourselves to ensuring that the miracle of a Jewish state endures forever. The dreidel is one of the most familiar symbols of Hanukkah, with Hebrew letters on it representing the phrase Nes Gadol Haya Sham—‘a great miracle happened there.’ Indeed a great miracle is still happening there.”

Last June, Palin announced on her Facebook page that she had been invited to visit London and have a meeting with one of her “political heroines,” Margaret Thatcher. She also wished the “Iron Lady,” who suffers from dementia, a happy birthday in October.

Palin has long wanted to visit Israel, and in a recent Facebook post wishing the Jewish community a Happy Hanukkah she reconfirmed her support for the Jewish state.

The former Alaska governor was criticized in 2008 for her limited global travel, but this first foreign trip post-governorship would burnish her foreign-policy credentials and would certainly be accompanied by a media frenzy as both the Israeli and English press follow her closely.

Palin has a foreign-policy team of two allies from her time on the McCain campaign, Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb briefing her, and she has taken to her Facebook page of late to weigh in on global issues. In a post titled “An Open Letter to Republican Freshmen Members of Congress” she tells new members to “say no to cutting the necessities in our defense budget when we are engaged in two wars and face so many threats—from Islamic extremists to a nuclear Iran to a rising China.” She also urges the freshmen to “push job-creating free trade agreements with allies like Colombia and South Korea.” And she even counsels them on Israel writing, “You can stand with allies like Israel, not criticize them. You can let the President know what you believe—Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, not a settlement.” And she shares her opposition to the START treaty, something her potential 2012 rival Mitt Romney has also expressed his opposition toward, “don’t listen to desperate politically motivated arguments about the need for hasty consideration of the ‘New START’ treaty. Insist on your right to patient and careful deliberation of New START to address very real concerns about verification, missile defense, and modernization of our nuclear infrastructure. No New START in the lame duck!”

Another potential 2012 rival, Mike Huckabee has also announced a trip to Israel in the new year. He will be making his 15th trip to the Holy Land in January.

Shushannah Walshe covers politics for The Daily Beast. She is the co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar. She was a reporter and producer at the Fox News Channel from August 2001 until the end of the 2008 presidential campaign.