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October 23, 2017

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GOP governors hit town to woo Jewish donors in Las Vegas


Steve Marcus

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at the Venetian Saturday, March 29, 2014.

Republican Jewish Coalition holds a Spring Leadership Meeting

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at the Venetian Saturday, March 29, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Calling for a more assertive foreign policy and additional American support for Israel, three high-profile Republican governors descended on Las Vegas this weekend to draw support from a slate of Jewish donors that included casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

"If people around the world -- not just our allies, but our adversaries -- don't think we're strong, they're going to take action," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Saturday during his address at this year's Republican Jewish Coalition conference, held at Adelson's Venetian.

Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also offered strategies on winning the 2016 presidential election, fueling rumors about their own plans for the race.

Dubbed “the Sheldon primary,” the convention draws White House hopefuls competing for the support of Adelson, an 80-year-old billionaire who is one of the world's top 10 richest people. Adelson's key political interests include the support of Israel and a more aggressive American foreign policy.

"I'm not in this business to have an academic conversation; I'm not in this business to win the argument. I'm in this business to win elections," Christie said. "When we win elections, we get to govern."

To win those elections, Christie said, the Republican Party should better listen to the needs of minority communities and end divisive internal debates.

"It's time for us as a party to stop killing each other," Christie said.

When asked to address the so-called Bridgegate scandal -- a politically motivated plot to create a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. last September -- Christie called the experience "confidence-shaking" and vowed to watch over his staff more closely.

Kasich, who delivered the event's luncheon address, spoke mostly about his political career and emphasized the importance of job creation. Repeatedly addressing Adelson directly during his speech, he said the key to reclaim the White House was letting the public know Republicans "get them."

"We have to help people who can't help themselves... to get themselves in a position where they can be successful," Kasich said. "At the end of the day, if people know you get them and you get their struggles...I think we might get hired both in Congress and maybe even as the race unfolds for president of the United States."

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