Governor Glenn Youngkin will travel to Asia next week to meet with political and business leaders, adding more fuel to speculation that the Republican from Virginia is planning to run for president.
Youngkin will lead a state delegation on a trade-focused visit that will include stops in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The group will meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, as well as a range of unnamed executives and leaders in Tokyo and Seoul, Youngkin’s office said in a press release.
The trip, announced earlier this month, will take place at the same time as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered former President Donald Trump’s biggest potential challenger for the 2024 GOP nomination, is also ready to travel on a trade mission abroad.
Youngkin touted the visit, his first to Asia as governor, as a chance to strengthen his state’s supply chains in the semiconductor, pharmaceutical and automotive sectors.
“I’m going to do our best to get that foreign direct investment to come to Virginia,” Youngkin, a former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, said during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.
The planned six-day international visit, due to start on Monday, has sparked questions about whether he has any presidential ambitions. Youngkin did little to quell that speculation when CNBC pressed him about his political plans.
“I have a great job and I’m very focused on doing it well,” Youngkin said Friday of a Politico report last month titled “Why Glenn Youngkin would be crazy not to run for president”.
When asked if it was true or false that there was a 0% chance of Youngkin running for the White House in 2024, the governor replied, “I think the true and false questions are a race. idiot.”
He added, “I’m 100% focused on the Virginia General Assembly races in 2023.”
Youngkin’s office noted that Virginia is home to five business establishments from Taiwan, 133 from Japan and 25 from South Korea.
Youngkin, who toppled Virginia Red when he won the 2021 gubernatorial race, is among a handful of Republicans who are considered possible candidates in the 2024 presidential race. Others include the former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Of the GOP candidates who officially threw their hats in the ring, Trump is considered the undisputed frontrunner. Polls show Trump’s biggest challenger is DeSantis, who is expected to announce his presidential plans after his state’s current legislative session ends in May.
DeSantis announced Thursday that he will be setting off on his own international trip next week, stopping in Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.
The Florida governor has quickly risen to prominence within the Republican Party thanks to his high-profile fights over burning cultural issues. But he has withstood a torrent of negative press in recent weeks as critics dismissed his remarks about Ukraine and Trump’s indictment, as well as his recent moves into a bitter feud with disney. (Youngkin on Friday dodged CNBC’s questions about the Disney-DeSantis fight.)
This week Trump, who had just pleaded not guilty to dozens of business document falsification charges in New York, won a string of endorsements from Republicans in Florida even after DeSantis traveled to Washington, D.C. , to assist the court.