ISRAEL -- Mitt Romney arrived in Israel Saturday night, the second leg of his foreign tour. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is hoping for a warmer reception there than he got in London, where his comments about Britain's Olympic readiness caused a bit of an uproar.
Romney will meet Sunday with senior Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Romney calls an "old friend."
The high-stakes trip is a chance for Romney to show Americans he can handle complex foreign policy matters-and also to showcase his support for Israel to Jewish voters back home.
From day one of his campaign, Romney has been sharply critical of the President's policies on Israel and his approach to Iran.
"He's treating Israel the same way so many European countries have: with suspicion, distrust and an assumption that Israel is somehow at fault," he said last year.
That kind of language strikes a chord with some Israelis, including Netanyahu, whose relationship with Mr. Obama at times has seemed strained.
It also could resonate with Jewish voters in the U.S.--a key consitituency in swing states like Ohio and Florida. In 2008 President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote, but a June Gallup poll has his support down to 68 percent.
But the president isn't ceding any ground. On Friday, he signed a bill to strengthen U.S.-Israeli military cooperation with an additional $70 million to help expand the production of short-range rocket defense systems.
And earlier in the week, the president's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, paid a visit to Israel. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrives Tuesday.
But Romney has insisted he will stand stronger and taller, and indirectly criticized the president for failing to visit Israel in his first term.
"As president," he said in March, "my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo, Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem."
Now Romney is going to be walking a pretty fine line during his visit in Israel. He has said repeatedly he is not going to be criticizing President Obama while he is on foreign soil. Instead, his advisers say he will be stressing the common bond between the U.S. and Israel, and the need for a strong partnership between the two countries.