Scott Walker planning to keep press away during Israel trip
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Scott Walker planning to keep press away during Israel trip

Likely GOP presidential candidate announces visit to region in May without reporters, to focus on ‘hearing Israel’s concerns’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Las Vegas (photo credit: AP/Julie Jacobson)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Las Vegas (photo credit: AP/Julie Jacobson)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will visit Israel this May, but will do so without press coverage, according to a report Wednesday.

AshLee Strong, a spokesperson for Walker’s political action committee, Our American Revival, told Buzzfeed last week that Walker’s visit to Israel will be aimed at getting the possible Republican presidential contender up to speed on the country.

“He is interested in hearing first-hand Israel’s concerns about the future of our alliance and identifying ways to restore the ruptured bonds between our two countries,” Strong said.

“He is very concerned about the rise of Iran, the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and the turmoil in Syria and Iraq, and is interested in understanding the views of the Israelis on how we confront these shared challenges,” she added.

The trip to Israel is seen as key for Walker to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of an expected bid to run for the Republican nomination for the White House.

Visits to Israel for candidates are common in the run-up to elections. President Barack Obama made the trip before his successful run in 2007, and Mitt Romney visited Israel ahead of the US presidential election in July 2012, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

But not every Israel visit is successful.

Ben Carson, another possible Republican presidential candidate, visited Israel last year to cultivate and portray a connection with the country, but statements made during the trip displayed his ignorance more than his close ties to the Jewish state.

“What is the role of the Knesset?” he asked a group of Israeli politicians, according to GQ magazine. As the lawmakers explained Israel’s 120-seat parliament to the potential presidential candidate, he responded, “It sounds complex.”

“Why don’t they just adopt the system we have?” he asked.

By not allowing independent press to accompany him, Walker could be able to better control what photographs and statements are released during and after the trip.

Strong insisted that “the governor will be discussing his trip once he gets back but wants to use it as an opportunity to see for himself and learn before discussing it.”

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