JERUSALEM (CBSNewYork/AP) — Israel’s Nobel peace prize-winning president on Tuesday hosted New Jersey’s governor on the second day of his visit to Israel.
Gov. Chris Christie, a rising star in Republican politics, is in Israel on his first official overseas trip. The high-profile visit has raised speculation he could be positioning himself for a run at national office, though he has rejected such suggestions and insisted the trip is aimed at strengthening ties with his state.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Shimon Peres, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, hailed Christie as “an outstanding friend to Israel.”
Christie said he brought a delegation of New Jersey business and religious leaders to Israel to look for opportunities to expand commercial ties and strengthen the already “extraordinarily strong” bond with New Jersey.
“New Jersey stands with Israel in all its endeavors,” he said.
Christie also visited Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and was to tour Teva Pharmaceuticals, a global generics giant, later on Tuesday. New Jersey is home to many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
Christie endorsed Mitt Romney‘s bid for president in October, ending months of speculation over whether he would run for president. 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, 49, is also seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
The governor downplayed talk of a run for the White House in typical Christie style.
“Anything I do fuels speculation for a future bid. When I wake up in the morning it fuels speculation for a future bid. So I can’t worry about that,” Christie said.
Israel is a popular stop for American politicians on the rise seeking to bolster their international credibility while also appealing to Jewish constituents.
He will travel to Jordan later this week for talks with King Abdullah II.
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