NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is off to Mexico on Wednesday, officially on a trade mission for his state.
But the trip also serves as schooling for Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate with a lot of swagger but little foreign policy experience.
So with his state exporting $2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, and tens of thousands of New Jersey jobs relying on the relationship, Christie becomes the latest potential presidential contender to cross the border on official business — and in pursuit of international expertise and credibility.
“If you’re a national leader of the party and you go abroad and you meet other foreign leaders, you learn,” Christie, who also is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told reporters. “And that’ll make you a better leader whether you run for anything else or whether you just continue to try to be an influential governor in our country regarding the national debates that come up.”
Christie is just one of the Republicans trying to beef up his foreign policy credentials for a possible general election matchup against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former secretary of state. The nation’s role in international affairs is likely to be a key issue in the 2016 contest regardless of the candidates.
After consecutive elections focused largely on the American economy, foreign affairs has returned to the forefront with the rise of the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq and the Russian-backed rebellion in Ukraine.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) recently returned from Guatemala, where he performed eye surgeries with news cameras in tow. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum just came back from Israel; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is there now. Two days after Christie returns from Mexico, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to head to China and Japan.
They are all following paths out of the country well-worn by presidential contenders, including former governors Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who cited travel overseas to boost their foreign policy credentials.