Jerusalem - Christie In Israel On First Official Overseas Trip
Jerusalem - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie kicked off his first official overseas trip to the Middle East Monday, meeting Israeli leaders in a visit that may boost the rising Republican star’s foreign policy credentials ahead of November’s presidential elections. He will move on to Jordan later this week for a personal visit with Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Christie, 49, is often touted as a potential vice presidential candidate in 2012 polls, and a possible presidential candidate in 2016. He has brushed aside repeated inquiries from top Republican donors to enter this year’s presidential contest.
Christie’s Israel visit could raise speculation that he is positioning himself for a future run and his trip will be watched by Democrats and Republicans alike. A three-state tour of Missouri, California and Louisiana in September also fueled talk over Christie’s future plans.
Israel is a popular stop for American politicians on the rise seeking to bolster their international credibility while also appealing to Jewish constituents.
Christie endorsed Mitt Romney’s bid for president in October, ending months of speculation over whether he would run. He hasn’t said yet whether he’ll seek re-election as governor next year, leaving the door open to a vice presidential bid. He is consistently rumored to be on Romney’s short list.
Christie’s trip, billed “Jersey to Jerusalem,” is a trade and diplomacy mission, according to his office. He met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first in a series of meetings with senior Israeli business and political leaders, including President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.
Christie’s spokeswoman Maria Comella said it is “a common tradition for New Jersey governors to go to Israel” because of the state’s economic links to Israel. Beyond that, she pointed to New Jersey’s cultural ties with Israel due to the state’s large Jewish population.
Christie is traveling with his family and a delegation of 13 business and religious leaders. While in Israel, he plans to tour a pharmaceutical facility with an interest in expanding to the U.S., participate in a business round-table and visit a school.
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