Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that he will visit Israel in October, a move that signals to the political world that he is seriously considering making another presidential run in 2016.
“We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Mr. Perry told The Washington Times in an interview just three days after he announced he would not seek an unprecedented fourth term as Texas governor.
Many analysts interpreted that decision as evidence that he is setting the table for a White House campaign. Asked what would induce him to announce a run, he told The Times that he has “plenty of time to make that decision.”
Mr. Perry ranks among those on the short list of Republican contenders for 2016, despite a series of flubs that led to an early exit from the 2012 primaries. Also on that list is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who made his own trek this year to Israel, a pilgrimage that has come to be expected of would-be presidential candidates — especially conservatives — looking to establish foreign policy credentials and show loyalty to the key Middle East ally of the United States.
Two other potential Republican candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have made trips to Israel this year, and Mitt Romney, who defeated Mr. Perry to win the 2012 nomination, visited during the general election campaign.
Israel’s stance as a bulwark against Iran earns it the backing of Republicans, but the U.S. commitment to military involvement in the region has become a dividing line within the party.
Mr. Perry and Mr. Paul have embraced the tea party movement and its more libertarian-flavored brand of Republicanism, and Mr. Perry made it clear Thursday that he backs a more deliberative approach to the use of American military muscle.
Noting that America’s founders, including George Washington and Thomas Paine, warned against military intervention abroad unless the U.S. is directly attacked, Mr. Perry said, “How we intervene is crucial.”
“Investing our treasure in educational operations will go more toward creating peace than any military foray,” Mr. Perry said.
He offered pointed criticisms of President Obama and former President George W. Bush, a fellow Republican and Texan.
“Having a president who has not served in the military and does not understand the burden of sending our treasure — our young men and women — into battle is wrong,” he said.