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New Jersey pig bill has presidential implications

November 28, 2014

NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) — New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a piece of legislation seen by many as a gauge of his presidential ambitions — a bill involving pig cages.

The bill would have ban pig farmers in the state from using devices called gestation crates, which are metal cages so small pregnant pigs can’t turn around. On Friday, Christie called the legislation “a “solution in search of a problem.”

The contraptions are rarely used on New Jersey’s 300 pig farms, but they’re widespread in Iowa, a key state in presidential contests because it kicks off the primary races to choose nominees.

Christie, who is seriously considering a run in 2016, has invested significant time into building relationships in Iowa, including with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who had urged Christie to veto the legislation.

Christie has showed signs of rebounding from a New Jersey traffic scandal that badly tainted his brand earlier in the year. As the head of the Republican Governors Association, Christie played a leading role in his party’s victories in the Nov. 4 midterm elections, raising tens of millions of dollars to help elect Republican governors. He recently handed over the RGA position, which has responsibilities that would conflict with the presidential primary season.

However, Christie is just one name in a crowded field of potential Republican candidates. While Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the Democratic front-runner should she seek the presidency, there is no early favorite among the Republicans.

Animal rights advocates say the gestation crate practice is cruel. To try to sway Christie, they launched a public relations blitz, complete with celebrity endorsements and staged events where activists stand inside cages.

Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, had sent a lobbyist to the state to try to scuttle the bill.

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