New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie added one more destination to his list of foreign trips this week when he visited Britain, but the potential 2016 presidential candidate did little to burnish his foreign policy credentials, The Washington Post
After making a controversial comment that childhood vaccinations
should not be mandatory, Christie subsequently tried to duck the media firestorm by canceling a number of pre-arranged media engagements.
He also refused to be drawn on his international views when questioned about the role NATO should play in the world or whether he discussed the Islamic State with Prime Minister David Cameron.
And he did not deliver a policy speech like he did on previous foreign visits to Mexico and Canada.
"The closest Christie came to articulating a foreign policy vision was on Monday in Cambridge, where he criticized President Obama as a weak negotiator in response to a reporter's question about the U.S. trade talks that have been a British priority," the Post said.
The newspaper noted that Christie aides defended his decision not to deliver a policy address.
"It didn't make sense for him to come here and give a showy speech," Maria Comella, Christie's communications adviser, told the Post. "In the long run, what he's doing is a lot more worthwhile. He's listening and learning, and that helps him develop a base and core in terms of his foreign policy viewpoints."
The Post also noted a damning front page article that was published in The New York Times on Tuesday about the luxury perks Christie has taken while in office, which may have been another reason for the canceled press appearances.
"To be fair, Christie made no errors here on the scale of Mitt Romney's gaffe-filled foreign trip in 2012 as the GOP's presumptive nominee," the Post said, referring to Romney's remarks about British readiness for the Olympics, which drew rebuke.
"Still, Christie did manage to stumble into an emotional debate about vaccinations that was flaring back in the United States amid an outbreak of measles."
The newspaper said that Christie's office subsequently tried to do damage control, issuing a statement that the governor believes "there is no question kids should be vaccinated," but by late Monday media appearances had been canceled for Tuesday.
"Christie had hoped the final day of his overseas trip would present him as a compassionate, worldly politician," noting visits with London charities, but said that he appeared to be focused on his domestic image, when, for example, choosing to discuss his pro-life position during a visit to a drug addiction charity.
"Even in a foreign land, Christie's mind seemed focused on his pre-campaign positioning at home," the Post concluded.
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