New Jersey governor visits constituents' hometown

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PUEBLA, Mexico (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put his people skills to the test in the city of Puebla on Friday, and 2,000 school children gave him high marks.

The students packed the bleachers of an outdoor field, waving American, Mexican and New Jersey flags as they waited for the governor to walk a path lined on both sides with kindergarteners. He greeted each of the tiny students, leaning down to shake their hands, sharing fist bumps and gently touching their shoulders and heads.

As Christie took his place in a special box above the field, the children broke into excited shrieks worthy of a teen heart throb, scrambling for a chance to shake his hand. Some of the students were to dance and perform highlights of Mexican history for Christie on the last day of his trip to Mexico.

Puebla state Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle greeted Christie and his eldest son, Andrew, who has accompanied his father on the three-day trip, as they disembarked from the helicopter that brought them from Mexico City.

After a brief meeting, Christie joined the Mexican governor, his cabinet members and other local officials for a breakfast in the governor's residence complex. As the breakfast began, Christie said he had already invited Moreno Valle to come to New Jersey for a joint visit to the City of Passaic, where many immigrants from Puebla live.

"I look forward to him coming to the U.S. and for me to return the favor," Christie said.

The visit to Puebla gives Christie a chance to talk with local residents at a park and school children after two days of back-to-back meetings, receptions and speeches with officials and business leaders in the country's capital.

Christie's trip is seen as part of a larger effort to burnish his foreign policy credentials and build his appeal with Latino voters ahead of a potential run for president in 2016.

He has appeared more reserved than usual during the trip.