Palin resurfaces with speech in Asia

Former VP candidate Sarah Palin gave her first talk since resigning as Alaska governor in Hong Kong, raising speculation she wants to improve her foreign policy image and run again in 2012. Audience reactions ranged from 'bizarre' to 'beat all expectations.'

For the first time since abruptly resigning in July, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has resurfaced in an unlikely place – Asia. The 2008 vice-presidential candidate gave a lecture on foreign policy at an investor conference in Hong Kong Wednesday.

Like most everything else Ms. Palin has done, her appearance in Asia generated speculation about whether she’s preparing for another stab at national office. During her VP run, Palin was known as a foreign policy lightweight – who famously quipped that she was qualified to speak about Russia because she could see the country from Alaska.

During her a lecture Wednesday, she banned the media from attending, leading one critic to quip: “Are there other countries that she can see from her window that she doesn't want us to know about?”

Rumors are flying that the speech is meant to jumpstart Palin’s presidential election bid in 2012. But some think there’s a more immediate explanation: Palin’s out of a job, and needs cash to pay off legal and other fees.

Either way, the speech is meant to reinvent Palin – Palin 2.0, as Katie Connolly blogs at Newsweek:

“For the woman whose foreign-policy credentials once rested on being able to see Russia from her state, there's no better way to reengineer her image than to speak before an international audience that is made up of people deeply involved in the most urgent global issue of the day─rebuilding the financial sector.
Such a speech here would no doubt dominate cable news for at least a day or two and be critiqued from Miami to Wasilla. This way she can slowly build a reputation and try on her new image for size before its debuts in the States."

Someone snuck a recording device into the talk, and recordings have been leaked to the press. According to the Wall Street Journal, Palin used the talk to criticize President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, but also showed off some of her newly burnished foreign policy credentials. Here’s an excerpt:

Asia is at its best when it is not dominated by a single power. In seeking Asia’s continued peace and prosperity, we should seek, as we did in Europe, an Asia whole and free. Free from domination by any one power…”

So far, Palin’s strategy may be working. Many who attended her talk were impressed, reports The New York Times:

“The speech was wide-ranging, very balanced, and she beat all expectations,” said Doug A. Coulter, head of private equity in the Asia-Pacific region for LGT Capital Partners
“She’s definitely a serious future presidential candidate, and I understand why she plays so well in middle America,” said Mr. Coulter, a Canadian.

Not everyone agreed. Robert Fisk of England’s Independent attended the event and had this to say:

Grotesque, unprecedented, bizarre, unbelievable. Sarah Palin was all of that in Hong Kong yesterday…She spoke too fast. She gabbled her words. Scatty was the word for it.

Whether the speech will help Palin’s rumored 2012 presidential bid remains to be seen. For now, it’s more likely to help with a more pressing problem Palin doesn’t have to look out her window to see: $500,000 in legal fees that she and her husband Todd incurred as a result of 15 ethics complaints filed against her as governor.

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