(CNN) - A host of Republicans considering 2016 presidential bids, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, will attend a conference for religious conservatives starting Thursday, with a notable exception: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie was invited to speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's two-day "Road To Majority" conference in Washington, Republicans with knowledge of the invitation said.
Christie's team declined, citing a scheduling conflict.
Instead of visiting the conservative confab, the New Jersey governor, who is up for re-election this year, will be heading to Chicago to attend a symposium sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation helmed by former President Bill Clinton.
Christie will speak at the Clinton forum on Friday night. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, another possible presidential candidate, will speak Thursday.
The Faith and Freedom event, organized by longtime conservative activist Ralph Reed, features two days of speeches and breakout sessions headlined by movement conservatives and prominent Republican figures like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
"He was invited," Reed told CNN in an email when asked about Christie. "We would have been happy to have him and our hope is he can come next year."
Christie's decision to attend an event organized by one of the most famous Democrats in the world is the latest sign that the New Jersey governor and his advisers are more concerned with winning re-election this November in a blue state than courting influential conservatives who will be key players in the 2016 presidential nominating fight.