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Sarah Palin to Visit Haiti With Franklin Graham -- Boosting Her Standing With Evangelicals?

3 years ago
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Sarah Palin will travel to strife-torn Haiti this weekend with Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, on a mission that could burnish her standing on foreign policy and with evangelicals if she pursues a 2012 presidential run.

The trip to the island nation, still ravaged by the effects of last January's earthquake and facing rising civil violence, will be part of a mission by Samaritan's Purse, the Christian relief operation that the younger Graham heads.

The Associated Press reported that the duo will be visiting a cholera clinic, among other stops. Palin staffer Rebecca Mansour says the former Alaska governor's husband, Todd, will join her and that daughter Bristol may come along, as well. Gunfire and barricades were reported Thursday in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and the U.S. State Department reissued a travel warning to the country and recommended against non-essential travel.

Graham issued a statement saying he appreciates Palin's willingness to visit Haiti during troubled times.

"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," he said.

A cholera outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people in Haiti and voting in a recent presidential election is still disputed.

Palin, who is considering a run for president in 2012, has little foreign experience on her resume, and any visit abroad would generate intense interest. Earlier this week she had been rumored to be planning a visit to England or Israel.

But some suggest the trip could help her win support among the Republican Party's critical evangelical base. As Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote at Christianity Today, Palin -- despite her reputation as a conservative Christian -- has not cultivated ties to evangelical leaders, with the exception of Franklin Graham and, to a lesser extent, his father.

Franklin Graham has been a frequent critic of President Obama, and last summer declared that the president, who is a devout Christian, was "born a Muslim," which played into myths about Obama's religious identity. Earlier this year, Palin defended Graham over his statements about Islam.

In early 2009, as Bailey noted, Palin traveled with Franklin Graham to distribute food in Alaska. She also visited Billy Graham, who recently turned 92, right after the 2008 election.

Writing in Politico, Andy Barr said that the Haiti visit would allow Palin "to better establish her claim to evangelical voters if she chooses to seek the Republican presidential nomination," and he noted that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of Palin's potential 2012 rivals, was the choice of most evangelicals in the early 2008 GOP primaries and caucuses.

Billy Graham is in declining health and no longer the political player he once was. But Palin may have won his heart even before they ever met.

"He's a typical man. I don't care if he's 90 years old, he thought that she is so pretty," the elder Graham's daughter, Gigi, told Christianity Today in 2008. "He loves a pretty woman."

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teaforme1234

Great Sarah and Frankling Graham - you are two people who really care.

December 10 2010 at 7:55 PM
winasche

EGAD! She is becoming more and more like Teddy Roosevelt. Hunter, environmentalist, humanitarian. She is grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

December 10 2010 at 7:10 PM -1
angiebarnes919

I think it's a great idea, she should stay over there and get her hands dirty, maybe assist the people over there. If she wants to go just for a picture, or to say I been outside of Alaska. It's a waste of time, the american people are smarter then that.

December 10 2010 at 6:41 PM
jim johnson

I think she is a very strong willed person with a lot to offer this country. I believe if she was elected to the Vice Presidency the last election she would have learned the workings of the federal goverment and better direction that we should follow, not like now and a better understanding of what it takes to lead a country. I support her in the next election for that position completely .

December 10 2010 at 6:21 PM -4
natalia4664

Why are you still calling her Gov.???

December 10 2010 at 5:48 PM +4
J.J.

She won't be in Haiti for long as nobody can afford her speaking fee or the price of her book.

December 10 2010 at 5:00 PM +7
jymwrite

Maybe she heard Haiti needs a President.

December 10 2010 at 5:00 PM +8
1 reply to jymwrite's comment
sdodge4574

Good one!

December 10 2010 at 5:06 PM +3
yankeei

I am not a Palin-hater. She's an opportunist - good for her. If she persists in a Repub presidential nomination and that party buys it, bad for them, really bad for them. And, really, folks, with all due respect to evangelical voters, this trip is just a waste of time.

December 10 2010 at 4:57 PM +6
marcia luick

whatever!

December 10 2010 at 4:57 PM -2
oceancreek

seems sarah will do anything for a vote.

December 10 2010 at 4:22 PM +8

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