Portman to Meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

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By Kevin Bohn, CNN Senior Producer

WASHINGTON — Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman is heading to Israel and will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, a spokesman for Netanyahu confirmed to CNN.

A spokesman for Portman refused to comment on his trip.

Portman, in his first Senate term and a member of the Armed Services Committee, is often mentioned as one of the top contenders for the Vice Presidential slot on Mitt Romney’s ticket.

He has refused to comment on whether he is being vetted by the Romney campaign.

With roots in the key battleground state of Ohio and fiscal expertise from his time as the budget director in the George W. Bush administration, many political analysts have said Portman would be an attractive choice for Romney.

Israel has become an almost must stop for rising politicians. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visited in April.

Both Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee visited last year as they were considering whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Mitt Romney has been three times, including a stop in 2011, and some Republicans are urging the presumptive GOP nominee to visit again.

“It would be a good visit for him,” Rep. Pete Session, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told The Hill newspaper earlier this month.

President Obama visited the country as a candidate in 2008 but has not returned since taking office.

— CNN Jerusalem Bureau Chief Kevin Flower contributed to this story