Romney’s Potential VP Meets Netanyahu, Barak in Israel

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, eyed as a potential running mate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, wrapped up a trip to Israel last week that featured talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Republican VP contender Sen. Rob Portman
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Republican VP contender Sen. Rob Portman

According to ABC News, Portman toured an Iron Dome advanced missile defense system in southern Israel and met separately with Netanyahu and Barak.

His meeting with Netanyahu reportedly lasted about an hour and centered on regional security issues, among them Iran and Syria.

“This past year has been very turbulent for the Middle East, and my conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu strengthened my belief that we need to remain vigilant in our support of our critical ally,” Portman was quoted by ABC News as having said.

Lima News reported that during his meeting with Barak, Portman pitched the unique capabilities of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC).

The JSMC makes the Abrams tank and also does work for other countries, including for Israel’s Merkava main battle tank. It is beginning production on the new Namer combat vehicle.

Portman told reporters he and Barak discussed current and planned U.S. security partnership programs between the two countries and the role the U.S. defense industrial base has in supplying Israel with necessary equipment.

“I’m excited about their decision to use the plant,” Portman was quoted by Lima News as having said. “I encouraged him to provide us more opportunities. He indicated he is well aware of the plant and its expertise.”

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Portman’s meetings in Israel took place less than two days after Mitt Romney clinched the nomination for president.

Romney won the GOP primary in Texas last Tuesday night, giving him a majority of delegates’ votes in the Republican party’s nominating convention this summer.

A poll earlier this week showed that Romney is leading over President Barack Obama by a new high of four percent.

The Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday by Rasmussen gave 48 percent of the vote to Romney, 44 percent to Obama, 4 percent to other candidates and the rest undecided.

Meanwhile, a poll released last week suggested Jewish voters still prefer Obama over Romney.

Obama out-polled the Republican candidate by 59 percent to 27 percent, with 14 percent undecided. If the undecided voters split similarly, Obama would out-poll Romney by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin among Jewish voters.

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