NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Christie is getting a second chance to impress Jewish leaders after a recent stumble that upset some of the GOP’s most powerful donors.
The New Jersey governor and potential presidential candidate is giving the keynote address Sunday at the Champions of Jewish Values International awards gala in New York. Also attending are Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and major political donor Sheldon Adelson.
The event comes as deep-pocketed donors begin to size up the crowded field of potential Republican presidential candidates ahead of the 2016 contest.
Asked if he was running for president before the Sunday evening event began, Perry told reporters: “I’m being governor for the next nine months. To be real honest with you I don’t know what I’m gonna do after that.”
Adelson figures to play a prominent role in the selection of the next Republican presidential nominee.
At a Las Vegas gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in late March, Adelson met with Christie and several other possible Republican contenders: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Christie was forced to apologize to Adelson after his speech. Christie, a Catholic, said he was overwhelmed by displays of religious tolerance during a recent trip to Jerusalem.
“I took a helicopter ride from occupied territories across … and just felt, personally, how extraordinary that was to understand the military risk that Israel faces every day,” Christie said.
The comment about “occupied territories” drew sharp criticism from some in the audience. The Israeli government and by extension most of Israel’s supporters in the U.S. don’t consider the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be occupied territory.
After the speech, Christie met privately with Adelson to explain that he misspoke.
With a net worth estimated at nearly $40 billion, Adelson may be the Republican Party’s most influential donor. He is known for his devotion to Israel, in addition to an aggressive American foreign policy.
Adelson donated more than $90 million to Republican candidates and their allies in the 2012 election.
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