New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is heading to San Francisco as part of a national tour, headlining a high-dollar fundraiser in the liberal stronghold and supporting the California GOP's long-shot nominee for governor.
Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, swings through Friday. He has a morning appearance scheduled at a local flower business with California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari before he heads to a $10,000-a-plate luncheon fundraiser for the governors association.
The stop is part of a cross-country revival tour in which Christie is trying to shore up his reputation after the bridge-closing political scandal at home put a dent in his national aspirations. In recent weeks he has visited Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Mexico, Iowa and New Hampshire and will spend the weekend at a summit in Utah hosted by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The private event is for donors and GOP establishment leaders.
Christie's California visit also comes as Republicans in Congress are jockeying for power after the stunning ouster earlier this week of Majority Leader Eric Cantor by an unknown tea party candidate.
Friday's event with Kashkari is the first major campaign event of California's general election after the former U.S. Treasury official advanced through the state's top-two primary last week to challenge Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in November.
Kashkari, a moderate, surged past conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a tea party favorite who campaigned on issues such as opposing immigration reform and expanding gun rights. Romney and others in the GOP establishment rallied around Kashkari's candidacy after they grew concerned that Donnelly could hurt the party's chances in other races if he were at the top of the ticket in November.
Like Kashkari, Christie is considered to be in the moderate wing of the party. He is the highest-profile Republican to appear with Kashkari.
After the morning tour of a longtime family-owned flower shop, Christie heads to a governors association finance meeting and then to the lunch at a San Francisco landmark, the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel.
Christie also campaigned with California's 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, Meg Whitman, who now leads Hewlett-Packard Co. The event was memorable for the dressing down Christie gave to a heckler during a town hall-style forum at a Hollywood hotel, where he told the man not to raise his voice to Whitman.
"You know what. You want to yell, yell at me," he said, stepping off the stage into the audience to confront the man.
Christie also drew attention in California last year when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first public foray into politics by hosting a Silicon Valley fundraiser for Christie's re-election campaign.
He also is the second Republican governor to visit the state this week. Texas Gov. Rick Perry drove a Tesla to a meeting of Republican lawmakers across the street from the state Capitol in Sacramento earlier this week, a stunt designed to underscore his commitment to bringing a battery plant for the California carmaker to his state.
Perry then addressed the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, where he compared homosexuality to conditions such as alcoholism, in which people can choose to change their behavior.