New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has backed out of a scheduled speech Thursday at the East Coast Gaming Congress, leaving many in the state wondering whether his rumored consideration for the vice presidential spot on the Republican ticket may have played a role.
Christie press secretary Michael Drewniak said the cancellation was nothing more than “a scheduling conflict and change,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer
. But the newspaper noted that some analysts believe it may have had more to do with his political ambitions and concerns about bucking public opinion.
The decision came to withdraw from the speech shortly before a new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll was released showing that most New Jersey residents oppose online gambling based in Atlantic City, where the governor has focused considerable attention on reinvigorating the economy through the gaming industry.
Poll director Peter Woolley told the Inquirer the issue of gambling is “sensitive” for Christie because he’s often mentioned as presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s potential running mate.
“I think [Christie] knows any decisions he makes now are going to be scrutinized at the national level,” Woolley said, “and so when you have ambitions for a national job, you have to wonder how this policy plays out in Peoria as well as in Paterson.”
According to the Inquirer, some Democrats and gambling industry insiders said Christie may have decided to steer clear of the online gambling issue to keep potential key donors from the industry happy should he end up on the GOP ticket or, perhaps, in a Cabinet post if Romney wins the White House.
Some of those donors could include gaming executives who fear competition from legalized Internet gambling, like Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s chief executive Sheldon Adelson, who contributed more than $21 million to Newt Gingrich’s run for the presidency.
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