HERZLIYA, Israel — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said Wednesday he supports the United States's military aid to Israel amid debate over a freshman GOP senator's proposal to cut it. 


Asked if he is supportive of Israel's foreign military assistance from the United States, Barbour, a potential 2012 presidential candidate told reporters, "Sure."

Democrats have pounced on Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) plan to eliminate the U.S.'s $3 billion annual aid contribution as part of his broader push to cut $500 billion in federal spending.

"These remarks are alarming and aim to weaken the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel," a group of Senate Democrats wrote to House Republicans earlier this month. The Republican Jewish Coalition, which sponsored Barbour's trip, also criticized the proposal.

Barbour, however, said he had not seen Paul's specific proposal. 

"I didn't see it," he said. "We've been over here since Saturday, so I'm not up on my American news."

Paul's plan was first reported in late January.

Barbour spoke after delivering an address at the Herzliya Conference, a highly regarded national security and policy gathering outside of Tel Aviv. Barbour is one of three possible GOP presidential candidates who have visited Israel since the beginning of 2011, the other two being former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The Mississippi governor said it was his third or fourth visit to the Jewish state and his first since 1994.