JERUSALEM (CBSNewYork) – Chris Christie arrived in Israel on Monday, his first trip abroad as governor of New Jersey.
Christie said the visit is deeply personal, but it will also burnish his foreign policy credentials. It could even help him win re-election and help him enormously if he runs for president, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reports.
It’s hard to tell which picture of Gov. Christie in Israel is more compelling, the man placing both hands on the sacred Wailing Wall with his eyes closed in silent contemplation and then praying out loud with a Hebrew-English prayer book, or the one of him walking around with a yarmulke — a Jewish skullcap — on his head with the words “Governor Christie” embroidered on the back.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Christie said.
Although the images and the political implications for a 2016 presidential run, perhaps, were overwhelming, the governor swept aside such speculation 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.
Still, the fact that people from all over the country recognized him was not lost on the GOP star.
“The good thing about that is that there must be some people out there in my state and in my country who think that I’m doing some things that are worthwhile, and if that’s the case I’ll put up with the speculation in return for their admiration,” Christie said.
Pundits say the trip will help Christie with the critical Evangelical Christian vote, and he played to that audience, too.
“It’s certainly powerful to walk on Holy Week in the same places that Jesus Christ walked, extraordinarily powerful,” Christie said.
The governor introduced his wife and kids to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before talking about the Iranian nuclear threat and other issues.
“This is you’re first foreign visit as governor, really?” Netanyahu asked.
Christie responded by saying, “Yes, it is.”
“Well, you chose the right place,” Netanyahu said.
The governor posed with babies and got a kiss from a Teaneck, N.J. woman who now lives in Jerusalem.
“I am a staunch supporter of Christie, 150 percent, and I look forward to the day when he will not only be Governor Christie but President Christie,” Paula Markowitz said.
Of course, a number of things have to fall into place for Christie to run for president in 2016. First, President Barack Obama has to win re-election. Then, Christie has to win re-election as governor next year.
Christie will visit Jordan before returning home.