Outgoing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's op-ed in the Washington Post Tuesday may have offered a preview of the next stage of her long-range political strategy. And so far, the reaction from members of the Republican establishment has been positive. [See photos of Sarah Palin.]
Palin, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee last year and remains the subject of intense fascination as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, criticized President Obama for proposing a "cap and trade" system for limiting carbon emissions. Palin wrote that the Obama plan is "an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage." In addition to boosting energy costs, Palin argued that the plan would increase unemployment in the energy industry. She said the answer is to "responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil" while at the same time protecting the environment.
Prominent Republicans in Washington have criticized Palin for failing to join the national debate on major issues since last year's campaign, but her essay suggested that she will now become much more vocal.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee gave Palin credit Tuesday night for showing her "serious side." Huckabee told Fox News, "Clearly, the op-ed that she did for the Washington Post I think outlines a very important piece of policy that America ought to be talking about. That's probably not Sarah Palin's typical crowd. So maybe she's showing her...serious side." Huckabee added that the op-ed demonstrates that Palin is "not interested in exiting the stage and leaving the spotlight" but wants to speak out as a private citizen and perhaps as a presidential candidate.
However, Huckabee, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination last year and is considered a possible candidate again in 2012, said he was troubled by Palin's recent comments that she might help candidates who aren't Republican. "I hope she remains—let me be real clear—a part of the Republican Party," Huckabee said. "I'm a little concerned when I hear her say that she may sort of branch out and go third party or go independent." He added: "That would be a big mistake because we need to rebuild the Republican Party, not abandon it."
Pain announced earlier this month that she was resigning as Alaska governor at the end of July—with 18 months to go in her term—because the many attacks on her and her family had become a costly distraction. She left the door open to running for president in 2012 but in the meantime is expected to write a book, make paid speeches, campaign for conservative candidates, and, as her op-ed shows, promote conservative ideas. Adds a senior Republican with close ties to the party leadership: "She needs to offer more of her views on policy as one of her major objectives."