New Jersey Governor Chris Christie brags to anyone who will listen about how he’s a straight talker, brandishing his brashness credentials by shouting down constituents who disagree with him at town hall meetings. But this year, as Christie travels to key 2016 states like New Hampshire and Iowa, he has so far avoided giving straight answers to the questions asked of a prospective presidential candidate, or really any answers at all. His trip to Mexico this week seemed like yet another example of the Governor positioning himself for a possible presidential run, leading the New York Times and others to wonder whether this would finally be the time that Christie meaningfully addressed foreign policy.
To take a page out of the Governor’s straight-talking book, we’ll sum it up for you in a single word: NOPE.
In a keynote speech to the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, Christie went out of his way to avoid addressing immigration or the crisis currently taking place on the U.S.-Mexico border. Christie contorted himself to skirt even using the word “immigration” once in the speech, lest he bring up an issue that continues to tank his party’s support among the growing U.S. Latino population. Christie’s only reference to the thousands of miles of border between our countries was in the context of the flow of commerce, rather than that of people.
Indeed, Christie’s sleeper foreign policy credentials stayed in hiding, with the Governor delivering your basic GOP stateside stump speech with a small South of the Border twist. In his discussion of our “very special relationship” with Mexico, Christie devoted several minutes to domestic U.S. energy policy, including the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline — no section of which would come close to crossing into Mexico. The United States’ manufacturing jobs, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy projects and higher education institutions all earned shout-outs in the speech over immigration issues like the situation at our border with Mexico.
Governor Christie may think he can get away with neglecting to mention immigration issues and/or substantively discuss foreign policy issues during his New Jersey trade mission to Mexico, but if he runs for President, voters will demand the full enchilada.