Texas Gov. Rick Perry to visit Israel

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said he will visit Israel this October, the clearest sign yet he is considering running for president in 2016.

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“We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Perry told The Washington Times in an interview.

On Monday, Perry announced that he wouldn’t seek a fourth term as Texas governor in 2014, sparking instant speculation that he planned another presidential run.

“Any future considerations I will announce in due time, and I will arrive at that decision appropriately, but my focus will remain on Texas,” Perry said at the time.

After announcing his 2012 candidacy, Perry raced to the top of the field but fell hard and fast after his “oops” moment at a debate, where he couldn’t remember the third federal department he pledged to shut down if elected.

Many analysts believe the longer planning period Perry is giving himself ahead of a potential 2016 run will benefit the Texas governor, as his 2012 run was slapped together in a hurried fashion.

In addition to establishing foreign policy bona fides, a trip to Israel is viewed by many as precursor to pursuing the Republican presidential nomination, as the GOP’s staunch defense of the Middle Eastern country is important to the party’s base.

Mitt Romney visited Israel during his 2012 campaign, and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), all considered potential 2016 candidates, have visited the country recently.