MEXICO CITY – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seems to have left his usual bravado at home, packing instead a more humble tone for his trade mission to Mexico.
Again and again, Christie has said that a key part of his mission is to listen and learn all he can from those he meets, and he began Thursday with a breakfast with the Mexican Business Council, a group of CEOs of Mexico's largest companies.
The governor, who is weighing a run for president in 2016, said the group had spent time discussing business opportunities for Mexican companies in New Jersey as well as the importance of prioritizing and fostering the relationship between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
"The only way that happens is to spend the time that's necessary to develop these relationships of trust and understanding," he told them. "You will not take advantage of opportunities you don't trust. You cannot take advantage of opportunities you don't understand."
While its official purpose is to foster economic investments between New Jersey and Mexico, the trip is seen by many as an opportunity for Christie to burnish his foreign policy credentials ahead of a potential run. Many are watching to see how Christie's famously brash personal style translates to the diplomatic stage, where restraint and careful words are often called for.
"I'm thrilled to continue to be on a tour where I'm not only expressing to these leaders some of my own views that I've developed over time, but just as importantly, spending a lot of time listening to them about their views of how business can grow and prosper in our two areas," he told the business leaders.
Christie's trip has little downtime. He's scheduled to meet later Thursday with several Mexican cabinet members, including the secretaries of the finance and economy, as well as sign a higher education agreement.
In the evening, he'll attend a reception with the Latino Coalition and a working dinner hosted by the secretary of foreign affairs.
He'll end the day with a tour of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Roman Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, one of the most revered religious sites in the Americas.