DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has left the state to embark on a week-long trip to Israel, his office announced Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a personal trip initiated more than a year ago and planned for the past six months,” states a press release from his office. “The trip includes stops at various historic sites and a variety of events, as well as meetings with President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“The governor is paying for all of his expenses; no public dollars are being used for the trip.”
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia will serve as acting governor until Hickenlooper returns on April 17.
The trip is certain to raise new speculation that Hickenlooper, an oft-mentioned presidential possibility in 2016 or beyond, has aspirations to seek national office.
“A visit to Israel is a prerequisite for any American politician wishing to play on the national stage,” political analyst Eric Sondermann told FOX31 Denver Tuesday afternoon.
The former geologist-turned-brewmaster has a compelling personal story and a pro-business, moderate brand that analysts believe could make him attractive as a national candidate.
Hickenlooper’s foreign policy background, however, is somewhat thin.
“This is a long way from any kind of declaration of candidacy,” Sondermann continued. “But it strikes me as an indication that Gov. Hickenlooper is wanting to keep his options open.
“Such visits are a box that needs to be checked — and this trip does exactly that.”
After his prime-time speech at last year’s Democratic National Convention, a top campaign adviser described Hickenlooper’s introduction to a national audience as a “slow roll-out.”