Chris Christie trade mission to UK has political overtones

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, here at an Iowa event, is spending three days in the UK.

Story highlights

  • Gov. Chris Christie travels to the United Kingdom this week
  • Potential presidential candidate is set to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron

(CNN)Gov. Chris Christie will meet with Prime Minister David Cameron when the New Jersey Republican heads to the United Kingdom for a trade mission this week, a trip that will give Christie a chance to strengthen his foreign policy credentials as he prepares for a potential presidential run.

Christie's three-day tour -- his third international trip since September -- starts Sunday with a Premier League game between Arsenal and Aston Villa. Later in the trip he meets with Cameron in London as well as with members of the Prime Minister's Cabinet and U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun.
"There is no other country that has such a strong connection to ours in terms of history, economy and culture," Christie said on a call with reporters before the trip. "And, so, we want to continue to make the most of that relationship."
    Christie traveled to Mexico in September and to Canada in December, placing a heavy emphasis on energy policy while visiting the United States' neighbors.
    With the United Kingdom as New Jersey's third-largest trade partner -- more than $7 billion annually -- the governor is leading a delegation of New Jersey business leaders to meet with representatives in the life sciences industry, including pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
    He also will visit Hope House, a drug addiction treatment facility that's backed by members of the royal family. Britain's Prince Harry teamed up with Christie in 2013 to tour recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy severely damaged the Jersey Shore.
    Along with sharpening his foreign policy chops, the trip gives Christie a chance to prove that he's able to tone down his "Jersey Guy" persona. When he was in Mexico last September, reporters noticed the governor was acting more guarded and restrained than his normal self.
    In an interview with the The New York Times, he acknowledged that he can be "flamboyant" at times. "But it doesn't mean that's the way I am all of the time," he added.
    "You know, I have more than one club in the bag, and I've demonstrated that over time," he said.
    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who's also laying groundwork for a potential presidential campaign, will travel to the United Kingdom a week after Christie.