Ron Kampeas at JTA reports on Mitt Romney's coming trip to Israel, where he will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and try to come across as a statesman and world leader. Kampeas also notes the NYT's reported statement from one of Mr. Netanyahu's people that Romney is "strong friend of Israel and we'll be happy to meet with him."
But as Kampeas also notes (and as I opined several months ago in a guest column at Juan Cole's Informed Comment site), Romney direly needs to upgrade and burnish his credentials with those millions of right-wing Christian evangelicals who now comprise the GOP base but don't trust the pro-Israel commitment of a Mormon candidate.
It is among evangelicals where Romney’s visit might resonate, said David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel.
“Its no mistake when conservative candidates want to appeal to the Christian base, Israel is the top issue to speak on,” Brog said.
Michael Hines, the media director for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, a Nashville-based group that conducts pro-Israel outreach among evangelicals, said a visit to Israel could help cement Romney’s relationship with the community.
“In the primaries campaign there was a certain reticence in the evangelical community,” Hines said. “Now that everyone has coalesced, or at least Republican evangelicals have coalesced, they see him as a contrast to Obama and there is a widespread view” among evangelicals “that Obama has not been the best friend of Israel.”
Obviously, Bibi will meet with Mitt. What Bibi says for public consumption both then and in the aftermath will be huge for Romney's chances. But dare Bibi further alienate Barack?