Chris Christie won't visit border during trip to Mexico

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks a during fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Davenport, Iowa.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Though he's lambasted President Obama for his "awful" handling of the staggering influx of undocumented minors across the U.S.-Mexico line, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., says he won't be visiting the southern border during his trip to Mexico next week.

Christie - who's not been coy about his 2016 White House ambitions - argued his job description doesn't list mending federal humanitarian crises. "The president has his responsibilities; I have mine," he said at a news conference in Sea Bright, New Jersey on Thursday.

"What would I do exactly?" Christie asked when pressed about whether he saw a stop at the border as a strategic early campaign move. "Like, you know, bring troops with me or something? I mean, come on. This is silliness. If I went down there and looked at it, what steps am I supposed to take, exactly? Send the New Jersey National Guard there?"

Since last fall, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children hailing primarily from Central America have flooded into the United States, prompting the government to haphazardly construct temporary shelters for minors without stateside family members. Christie said last month he has "great empathy for that situation" and believes immigration reform "deserves a much deeper and thoughtful conversation."

Still, the governor enforced Thursday that his trip to Mexico will be economy-centric. He and a delegation of New Jersey officials and business leaders will meet with the Mexican finance minister, the energy minister and President Enrique Pena Nieto.

"What I'm hoping to do is to have there be really strengthened economic opportunities between New Jersey and Mexico, and that's the main thrust of the trip," he said. "Whatever issues they want to talk about I'll be happy to discuss, but my thrust down there is to try and strengthen our economic ties - that's what my agenda is."

He also put the kibosh on any expectations that he'll try to speak Spanish.

"You have to know what you're good at and what you're not good at," Christie said. "I have never been really good at foreign languages. I tried in high school. I tried in college. And I never had an aptitude for it.

"I think the worst thing in the world is when politicians try to fake it," he went on. "You know they've got a few things written in a foreign language and they say it and they sound stupid and everybody knows they don't really know what they're talking about. I'm not going to do that."

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