Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
In a move that is sure to spark speculation about his future political ambitions. U.S. Senator Rand Paul will join evangelical leaders on a trip to Israel and Jordan this January. Paul advisors confirmed the trip, and told Business Insider that the Kentucky Senator will meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian leaders, including the head of Mossad and members of the Israeli defence Ministry and the Cabinet; Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas; Israeli and Arab members of the Knesset; and political leaders in Jordan. Advisors said Paul is also tentatively scheduled to meet with Israeli President Benyamin Netanyahu.
“This is a learning experience — we want to hear from everybody,” Stafford told Business Insider. “The issues in the Middle East come up on a nearly daily basis in the Senate…He is certainly interested in being a big part of the national debate.”
For much of the tour, Paul will be accompanied by a group of American evangelical leaders organised by David Lane, a conservative political operative best known for organising Pastor Policy Briefings to mobilize the Christian Right. He organised a similar trip to Israel for Mike Huckabee in 2010, has been working on pla
The trip, which Business Insider first reported was in the works this spring, Republicans begin to position themselves for the 2016 presidential race. Paul advisors told BI that the Senator has signalled interest in a White House bid, and is looking to reach out to evangelical leaders and other social conservatives to shore up his leadership on pro-life issues.
A trip to Israel will also help Paul to further distance himself from his father, Rep. Ron Paul, who was frequently accused of being anti-Israel during his own presidential campaigns, although the elder Paul’s advisors insist that his positions on Israel have been mischaracterized.
While the younger Paul is largely in line with his father’s political beliefs, he has already shown himself to be remarkably more adept at wooing the party base. The trip to the Middle East indicates that the pro-Israel Christian Right is willing to take a serious look at Rand Paul, and clears his path to the top-tier of candidates in 2016.
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