Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will be going on a trip to Israel sometime this summer, according to the New York Times. The move comes as his battle with President Barack Obama heats up when the general election will be less than four months away.
Who will Romney meet on his trip?
A Romney aide told the New York Times the candidate will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli President Shimon Peres and American Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro. Romney also plans to meet leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem.
Why go to Israel in July or August?
The timing of the trip is important. Romney needs to shore up his foreign policy credentials ahead of the general election. He also needs to go during the middle part of the summer before September, October and November, which are key months for fundraising ahead of the general election.
Why is the Jewish vote so important?
Jewish voters in the United States tend to vote for Democrats. Bloomberg News reports 78 percent of Jewish voters backed Obama in the 2008 election, something that may change in November. Obama has yet to visit Israel as president, yet made a trip to the region in 2008 as a candidate. This will be Romney's first trip to the region as the Republican choice for president.
How many Jews live in America?
There are an estimated 6.6 million Jews in America, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. Some of the larger populations live in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those three swing states may come down to a crucial minority voting bloc. All three of those states are in the top 10 areas with Jewish populations in America.
How many times has Romney visited Israel before?
The candidate has visited Israel three times before. The first was on a Mormon Church trip, the second in 2007 as a keynote speaker at the Herzliya Conference and the third was in January 2011 as Romney ramped up efforts to become a presidential candidate. The Herzliya Conference is dedicated to discussing Israel's national security. In 2007, Romney wasn't the only candidate to speak to assembled members. Rudolph Giuliani, Sen. John McCain, John Edwards and Newt Gingrich also spoke at the 2007 conference.
What has Romney said about Israel during this election cycle?
The GOP candidate believes Israel is a "beacon for democracy and freedom" in the Middle East. In speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March, Romney said in recorded remarks that "I will treat our allies and friends like friends and allies." Romney blasted the Obama administration for distancing itself from Israel by using the tactic of having Palestinians negotiate with the United States or United Nations rather than directly with Israel. Romney touted his relationship with Netanyahu more than 30 years ago at Boston Consulting Group as one reason why he feels passionately regarding the cause of Israel's sovereignty.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics. Born in St. Louis, Browning is active in local politics and served as a campaign volunteer for President Barack Obama and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.