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July 28, 2014

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Chris Christie finds a reason to visit Las Vegas in the dead of summer

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The Record of Bergen County, Amy Newman / AP

Gov. Chris Christie greets supporters as he walks along Broad Ave. in Palisades Park, N.J. during a campaign visit on Tuesday afternoon, July 30, 2013.

Updated Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 | 6:53 a.m.

Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Launch slideshow »

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to visit Las Vegas today for a private fundraiser hosted by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson at the Palazzo.

The event is technically for Christie’s gubernatorial re-election campaign this year, but it’s never too early for a potential presidential contender to visit an early caucus state.

The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate’s visit comes a few years after he derided the No. 1 gambling mecca in America in an effort to promote Atlantic City, the country’s No. 2 gambling destination.

“There is no reason people should go to Las Vegas in the summer,” Christie said in September 2011. “Why would you go to the middle of the desert in the summer? You'd have to be stupid to do that.”

There appears to be a reason that people should go to Las Vegas in the summer: It’s a lucrative stop for a presidential contender.

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Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

“Why is the New Jersey governor coming here in the middle of the summer if he’s not running for president, and particularly hosted by an individual who has actively been involved in fundraising for Republicans?” said Eric Herzik, a UNR professor of political science. “He’s giving every indication that even though he’s running for re-election as governor, he could be tempted to run for president. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is a get-to-know-you session on behalf of both sides (Christie and Adelson).”

While casino mogul Adelson is one of the top Republican donors in the country, Las Vegas is also a popular destination for potential presidential candidates seeking to gain an early foothold in a state that hosts an influential early caucus.

Last month, another potential presidential candidate visited Las Vegas.

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 7, 2013.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul conducted a round of media interviews and spoke at a Nevada Republican Party fundraiser.

Paul, however, wasn’t invited to the Venetian when he was in town. Instead, he was at the Golden Nugget speaking to one set of Republicans while another group of Republicans gathered for a fundraiser with the Republican Women of Southern Nevada at the Venetian. Paul wasn’t on the guest list, which included Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

Christie has recently railed against Paul, calling him the “king of bacon” for the federal subsidies Kentucky receives.

Unlike Paul, Christie does not plan to have any public appearances and a spokesman for the governor’s re-election campaign said he won’t have media availability for the trip.

Christie also plans to attend a conference in Las Vegas for the Knowledge Is Power Program, a network of charter schools, but that appearance also will be private, said Steve Mancini, director of public affairs for the charter school group.

A spokesman from the Las Vegas Sands Corp. was not available to comment on Christie’s visit.

This story has been edited to change the name of the Adelson resort holding the fundraiser.

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