New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie begins a three-day official visit to Mexico Wednesday with goals, according to his office, of promoting stronger relations, job creation and higher education opportunities.
Christie will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, tour local companies, and talk with business and community leaders.
But the trip is more than a trade mission, said Peter Woolley, Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor.
“I think Chris Christie is running for president. That’s what it’s all about,” said Woolley. “So a candidate for president has to show that he has more than domestic experience. You want to be able to show yourself with foreign dignitaries. You want to show that you have an interest in foreign policy.”
Selecting Mexico for his foreign trip could help boost Christie’s support among Latino voters, Woolley said. However, immigration reform is not on the list of topics the governor is planning to discuss.
“Latino voters are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States, and if the GOP wants to be a contender in these national elections, it has to reach out to Latino voters,” said Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison. “I think that’s part of what Gov. Christie is doing.”
Amid a jam-packed schedule, Christie intends to visit Puebla, the homeland of many of New Jersey’s Mexican-American families.
Visiting Mexico, Harrison said, also will give Christie the opportunity to appear like a statesman — and that could help his presidential aspirations.
“Are we expecting some kind of major announcement or some huge thing if he does this well, does that secure the nomination for him? No,” she said. “This is one of the hoops that he has to jump through, and it’s important only if he messes up.”
Christie has consistently dodged giving a definitive answer on his political plans, saying only that he is thinking about running for president and will made a decision sometime after the November elections.
Christie will be traveling with a 15-member delegation, including business leaders and the presidents of the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.
The trip will be paid for by Choose New Jersey, an independent nonprofit corporation that’s part of the state’s economic development organization, is paying for the trip.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.