Hmmm: Rob Portman to meet with Bibi Netanyahu on Thursday

I know that Netanyahu frequently meets with visiting American pols, but most visiting American pols aren’t exceptionally strong contenders to land on the GOP ticket. Which raises the question: What’s more significant here, that Portman sought this meeting or that Bibi granted it knowing Portman’s status?

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday in Israel. An Israeli official confirmed the meeting to ABC News Tuesday…

The Israeli official was unaware of speculation about Portman’s reported place on Romney’s shortlist and highlighted that Netanyahu makes every effort to meet visiting American politicians.

Uh huh. Forgive me for believing that Israel’s leadership follows American politics closely enough to know who the major players might be in the next administration. And forgive me for thinking that Netanyahu’s secretly enjoying the chance to tweak his “friend” Barry by granting a high-profile photo op to the guy who’s likely to be playing attack dog against the White House in a few months. What I really want to know is whether Portman requested this visit on his own, in order to impress Romney by boosting his pro-Israel credentials, or whether Romney might already have quietly settled on Portman as his VP and requested the visit on Portman’s behalf as part of an early rollout effort to the conservative base. (“Insiders” are awfully high on him.) My sense is that, if Portman’s tapped, grassroots righties will find him unobjectionable but a letdown compared to Rubio. Doing stuff like this now to earn goodwill will help minimize the disappointment. Coming soon, perhaps: A “major speech” on spending and debt?

Then again, he’s not the only VP contender to visit with Netanyahu lately so maybe we shouldn’t read too much into it. Exit question: If it’s a pro-Israel friend-of-Bibi VP that you want, isn’t there already an obvious solution?

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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023