LONDON (WITI) -- Gov. Scott Walker is in the United Kingdom this week to boost business in the Badger State. That's the stated purpose of the trip. But there is a lot at stake politically for the governor too.
Gov. Walker's four-day overseas trade mission takes him more than 6,000 miles from Milwaukee to London. In a statement, the governor said:
"There are many reasons why companies in the U.K. should consider establishing or expanding their operations in Wisconsin, and we are going to make that case directly to the key decision makers."
Wisconsin exports about $700 million worth of goods to the United Kingdom every year. Wisconsin imports about $300 million worth of products from Great Britain annually. The governor will be touring factories, touting Wisconsin's dairy farms and seeking British investors for Wisconsin's industries.
"When Gov. Walker goes to the United Kingdom under the rubric of sponsoring trade between Wisconsin and the United Kingdom, he's not going there as an ambassador of the United States government. Theoretically, the business at hand is to improve trade relations," said Mordecai Lee, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Some observers view trips like these as a way for presidential contenders to burnish their foreign policy credentials. Walker is the third sitting American governor to visit London in the last month. In late January, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal visited London -- and last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did the same.
"If a governor wants to run for president as a really credible candidate, is to check off that they've gone abroad, that they've visited with foreign dignitaries and that they're as fluent in foreign policy as let's say, a U.S. Senator or a vice president would be," said Lee.
The Democratic National Committee criticized all three trips as political campaign events dressed as official business. In a statement, the Democratic Party said:
"Now it's Scott Walker's turn to follow in the footsteps of these two unimpressive trips abroad. And like New Jersey and Louisiana, Wisconsin's struggling economy is being left behind by its Governor."
At least three other possible Republican presidential contenders have visited the United Kingdom in the last year. They include Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio. Hillary Clinton was also there last summer -- as part of her book tour.