(photo credit: REUTERS)
Likely presidential contender Scott Walker, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin, arrived in Israel Sunday for a five-day visit which he described as an “educational trip.”
Walker is one of a slew of possible Republican candidates, and although he has not yet announced, he is polling well among Republicans.
For instance, a Bloomberg Poll on Sunday in New Hampshire primary had him and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul leading the pack of Republican candidates, being the favorite candidate among 12 percent of the respondents, one percentage point ahead of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
A Quinnipiac University poll last Wednesday in Iowa had him in the lead in that state, however, with 21% favoring his candidacy, eight percentage points ahead of the nearest contenders, Paul and Rubio. Iowa and New Hampshire will early next year hold the first caucus and primary of the 2016 election season.
Walker follows a number of presidential hopefuls who have visited Jerusalem in recent months, including retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who have both already declared their candidacies. Rubio, according to Republican sources, is expected to visit in late summer.
Other Republican candidates or possible candidates who have visited in the last year, include Texas Senator Ted Cruz and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Walker arrived from South Carolina, where he told a crowd of republican activists at the South Carolina Freedom Summit on Saturday that “We need a president who will affirm that Israel is our ally, and start acting like it.”
Walker is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. He is also expected to take a helicopter trip over Israel, as former president George W. Bush famously did when he was a candidate in 1998, and also tour various historic sites.
In March Walker made headlines when he said that if elected president he would reject “on day one” the nuclear deal being negotiated by the Obama administration with Iran if it lets the Islamic republic continue to enrich uranium.
“The concept of a nuclear Iran is not only problematic for Iran, and certainly for Israel, but it opens the doors,” Walker said. “You’re going to have plenty of others in the region...They’re going to want to have a nuclear weapon if the Iranians have a nuclear weapon.”
In a Friday interview on Fox News, Walker said, that Israel’s “biggest concern” at the moment is that it feels like America “has somehow backed away because of this president and this administration. I want to show them that if I were to run and ultimately be elected as president, I would make it a priority to reestablish that partnership with Israel.”
Walker said that the Middle East was an “important part of the world,” and that the US needed Israel “to be a prime ally in that regard.”
Regarding the relationship between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, Walker said “it seems to be mixed up. Iran used to be our foe, and Israel used to be our ally, and the way you watch this administration, you’d think the roles have been reversed.”
According to The Washington Post
, the trip is being paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition and Walker’s political organization: Our American Revival.