02:13 - Source: CNN
Netanyahu Meets with Indiana Gov. Pence

Story highlights

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Monday

Pence is touring the region on an economic development mission

Taking a trip to Israel is a common early destination for presidential hopefuls

Washington CNN —  

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, as part of a nine-day trip to the nation that’s sure to set tongues wagging about his plans for the 2016 presidential race.

Netanyahu’s Twitter account sent out a quick clip of the two during their meeting Monday in which Pence expressed support for Israel, and said he believes “the strong and broad and bipartisan support for the state of Israel…will be reflected in the decisions our United States Congress makes in the months ahead.”

The meeting was part of a busy day in Israel for Pence, which included stops at a Holocaust memorial and a meeting with the Israeli minister of economy. It’s the first of three days he’ll spend on an “economic development mission to bring jobs and investment to Indiana,” his office said — and part of a broader nine-day trip that’s included a visit to the Western Wall and time spent with Israeli troops.

Pence’s office said Pence and his wife’s expenses during the cultural visits are being paid for by Christians United for Israel, and the economic development portion of the trip is being covered by the Indiana Economic Development Foundation. The state is paying for his security detail.

It’s the governor’s fifth “international job-hunting mission” as governor, according to his office, and while the trip was ostensibly organized around an economic development agenda, it’s also a signal he’s contemplating a presidential run.

Strong support for Israel will be a litmus test for any GOP presidential contenders hoping to compete in the primary, and a trip to the nation has become a traditional pilgrimage for potential candidates looking to burnish their foreign policy credentials.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican who has left the door open to 2016, visited Israel this weekend, physician Ben Carson was there last week and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, also contemplating a run, is planning another trip there in February.