Marco Rubio is on a trip abroad to boost his foreign policy credentials. His first stop was in Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah, and on Wednesday he was in Jerusalem, where he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toasted each other with water bottles (a nod to Rubio's State of the Union response last week).
— Alex Conant (@AlexConant) February 20, 2013
Rubio noted in a press release that he would also be meeting with Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
It's always interesting to note who travels on these trips with the principal. Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told me that there are two aides with the Florida senator: Jamie Fly and Brian Walsh.
Fly is Rubio's counsellor for foreign and national security affairs, and came to the senator's staff a month ago from the Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank that includes on its board Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan and Dan Senor, who is a close friend of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc).
Fly worked in the National Security Council and at the Pentagon in President George W. Bush's administration. He has focused on "the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense, chemical weapons, proliferation finance, and other counterproliferation issues," and has published a hawkish paper on how to deal with Iran.
Walsh has been with Rubio since he started his Senate term in 2011, and worked on Capitol Hill for other members of Congress for "almost a decade" prior to that.
Also traveling with Rubio is his wife, Jeanette. Rubio's office was careful, in a press release, to note both her presence and to specify that she is traveling "at no taxpayer expense."
After he returns, Rubio will speak about his trip at the Washington Institute.
— CesarConda (@CesarConda) February 20, 2013
Update: 5:27 p.m. - I asked Conant who is paying for Jeanette Rubio's travel. He e-mailed back that Mrs. Rubio "had meetings she needed to conduct in Israel as part of her work for the Braman Foundation."
"She scheduled her work meetings to coincide with Sen. Rubio's trip so they could be there together," Conant wrote. "Obviously Senator Rubio is there on official business and his expenses are being paid for by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee."
Politico reported last year that Jeanette has been working part time for the Braman Foundation, "helping it identify projects and organize its giving."
Braman gave $39,900 to the Rubio Victory Committee in 2010, along with $4,800 to Rubio's Senate campaign.
In 2012, Braman gave $5,000 to Rubio's Reclaim America PAC, and $35,000 to the Rubio Victory Committee.