Christie’s Mexico Trip May Showcase Split On Immigration

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie arrives in Mexico City tomorrow on a three-day trade mission with a chance to distinguish himself from fellow Republicans on immigration.

The visit, including meetings with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto and business leaders, comes as his party wrestles with how to win the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney garnered just 27 percent of the demographic group’s support in his failed presidential bid.

Christie, who has said he’s considering a run for the White House, has an opening to take a stance more sympathetic to Mexican-Americans, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington. Christie in December signed a bill allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey’s colleges and universities. He told reporters in July that he has “empathy” for unaccompanied children from Central America who are crossing into the U.S.

“What he’d really like to do by the time 2016 comes rolling around is demonstrate that he has pull with Hispanic voters,” said O’Connell, who has worked in the past with Christie political adviser Mike DuHaime. “Immigration is not very popular in a Republican presidential primary, but it’s an issue that you’re going to have to work through if you want to become the nominee and actually win in a general election.”

Read more from Eric Martin and Terrence Dopp at Bloomberg Businessweek

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