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DeSantis Jerusalem blitz proves ‘Israel is the new Iowa’ – no serious GOP presidential contender in 2024 can skip visiting Jewish state

Both Evangelical and Jewish Republicans demand nominee has super-pro-Israel credentials

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, Apr. 27, 2023 (Photo: Haim Zach/ GPO)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – In June of 2021, I raised this question in a column for ALL ISRAEL NEWS:

For Republicans considering a presidential run in 2024, has Israel become the new Iowa?

At the time, I noted that former South Carolina governor (and U.S. ambassador to the UN) Nikki Haley had just arrived in Israel, accomplished by Rev. John Hagee, the founder of Christians United For Israel, with its 10 million members.

What’s more, I noted the U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham had just been here.

So had former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

And former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was on the way.

Most of them decided not to run.

We’re still waiting for a final word from Pence.

But since then, more once-and-future presidential contenders have come to the Holy Land.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson visited in November 2021, as we reported on ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

U.S. President Joe Biden – who just announced that he’s running for re-election – was here last summer, as we also covered extensively.


Oddly, former U.S. President Donald J. Trump has not been back to Jerusalem since leaving office.

Then again, he’s had a lot of other matters to attend to.

More importantly, he is widely perceived in the GOP – and among most Evangelicals – as the most pro-Israel president in American history.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City (Photo: Shutterstock)

Even those Republicans and Evangelicals who don’t like Trump, or don’t plan to vote for him in 2024, regard him as the greatest friend in the White House that the Jewish state has ever had.

Ergo, my theory in 2021: If you’re planning to run against Trump, can you really afford not to hop on a plane and come burnish your pro-Israel credentials?

It might have been debatable then.

But now we have an update.


With the arrival of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Israel last night – and his keynote speech and press conference today – the question has been asked and answered.

Israel is the new Iowa.

No serious GOP presidential contender can afford to skip a trip to Israel.

Not if he – or she – wants to win over Evangelical Christians, most of whom deeply love Israel and deeply care about her security and prosperity, and pray regularly for the peace of Jerusalem.

Nor if he – or she – wants to win over Republican-leaning Jewish billionaires who are troubled by Trump and looking for an alternative.

And DeSantis certainly has the look and feel of a serious contender.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem Celebrating the Faces of Israel conference, Apr. 27, 2023. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/Jerusalem Post)

True, he has not announced yet – and he brushed off every suggestion of it while here on the ground.

But he certainly didn’t say he wasn’t running.

He’s the only GOP contender polling in double digits, averaging 22.5% support in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling.

More importantly, DeSantis is here.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, flanked by two Florida legislators, signing bill to combat anti-Semitic hate speech and actions, Apr. 27, 2023 (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Courting Jewish and Christian leaders simultaneously. 

“Israel is ‘the new Iowa’ for GOP politicians, said Joel Rosenberg, comparing it to the early-nominating state frequented by 2024 hopefuls,” reported the Washington Post on Thursday in its coverage of the DeSantis trip to Israel.

“He attended as a reporter for the Christian news organization Trinity Broadcasting Network and noted Israel’s importance to many conservative evangelical voters in the United States as well as Jewish voters.”

Which presidential contender will come to Israel next?

Stay tuned – I have no doubt more are coming.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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