He still insists no decision has been made about seeking the Republican nomination for president, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for the second time in three months, is leaving the Garden State to visit a foreign country.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell)

After traveling to Mexico earlier this year, Christie will take off for Canada Thursday, with stops planned in Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto.

A spokeswoman for the governor says the tour will focus on energy and increasing trade between New Jersey and Canada.

"This trip enables the governor to appear presidential, to appear as a head of state and actually to gain some experience particularly when it comes to trade," said Dr. Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University.

She stressed this kind of trip is very useful - particularly for governors - who usually don't have a lot of foreign policy experience.

"Traveling abroad gives them a little bit of clout, it gives them a little bit of recognition," she said. "It also oftentimes serves to put them on an even playing field with other heads of state."

Harrison said the trip will give the governor "a little bit of cache that translates back home. Voters may then think of them as having the right stuff to be president."

She believes Christie is able to use this trip, his Mexico trip and a visit to Israel a few years ago, as opportunities to learn about different aspects of foreign relations.

"In addition to giving the appearance of knowing what he's doing in foreign policy, it may actually serve to be instructional for governor Christie," Harrison said.

She added the trip can certainly been seen as a presidential stepping stone, and "the only question that remains is whether he believes that he can actually get the nomination, I think he's made it clear that he wants to run."

Harrison also said if Christie wasn't focused on winning the nomination, he may not be inclined to travel as much.

"I don't' think that given all of the situations going on in the state of New Jersey, particularly the looming budget crisis, that he would be taking time off and looking abroad if you will," Harrison said. "I think that this is a clear indication that he wants to beef up his foreign policy credentials and I think it is a signal that he is seriously considering this run."