In my opinion, however, she'd be crazy to go that route. A great deal of her appeal comes from her "outsider" status. Why would she want to risk falling victim to the inside-the-Beltway shackles that comes with being one of 100 in the US Senate?
Any theory that serving as a senator would give Palin "credibility" is misguided. Her colleagues across the aisle realize she has the potential to be a rising Republican star, and the idea that she'd be given opportunities for legislative accomplishment, especially in an overwhelming Democrat chamber, is as naive as believing, for example, that Democrats were willing to let John McCain to fly in and take credit for negotiating a bipartisan bailout bill.
Sarah Palin doesn't need the approbation of the chattering classes that might be wooed through a Hillaryesque detour into the Senate. What she does need is the opportunity to dispel some of the doubts that were raised on some Americans' parts by her shaky (and mishandled) MSM television interviews. And here's how I'd do it.
If I were Governor Palin, I would do a bang-up job as Governor, and win re-election overwhelmingly. In the meantime, I would (1) learn Spanish; (2) burnish my credentials as an energy expert (that's not an issue that's going away); and (3) convene a group of friendly experts to school me in foreign policy. It wouldn't hurt to hire a professional stylist at least for a while to hone her look and dress sense.
I'd skip the 2012 election, and aim for 2016, making visible appearances all the while, and campaigning like mad for Republicans in 2010 and 2012.
The Governor finishes her second term in January of 2015. That gives almost two years exclusively for travel and speech-making a la Ronald Reagan circa 1975, and for fundraising and running a campaign.