Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should visit Israel soon to give himself an advantage over President Barack Obama, who hasn’t been there once since entering the White House, GOP congressmen say.
Not only would such a journey help Romney politically, but it would also aid in mending frayed U.S.-Israeli relations, the congressmen told The Hill
“It would be a good visit for him,” said Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“It’s not just a political thing, it’s the right thing to do,” Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., told The Hill. “The most important title the president has is commander-in-chief, and you need to be able to go out there to some of those critical areas.”
Romney has a personal friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that goes back decades. The former Massachusetts governor has pledged that his first overseas trip as president would be to Israel. And he has blasted Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus.”
For his part, Obama went to Israel four years ago as presidential candidate but hasn’t returned. As president, he has visited 30 countries, including Ghana, Ireland, and El Salvador.
If Romney does go to Israel, he should be careful to avoid politicizing the trip by criticizing Obama, GOP congressmen say.
“It’s a very good idea, but strike the right tone,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told The Hill. “Do not utter Barack Obama’s name with regard to policy in Israel. He can go there and reiterate his record, build some confidence in the Israeli people and send a message to Americans [about] what kind of policy he would have towards Israel.”
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