By Sam Wilkin
LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible 2016 presidential contender, canceled three scheduled media appearances in the UK on Tuesday, amid a controversy over his comments on measles vaccinations.
The Republican governor said on Monday parents needed some choice on whether to vaccinate their children, drawing criticism from political opponents who said such a policy could threaten public health.
His comments came a few hours after President Barack Obama said parents should have their children vaccinated, saying the science was "pretty indisputable."
Christie canceled two question-and-answer sessions and a press statement he was due to make after meeting UK finance minister George Osborne.
"We just decided we're not going to have availability today," said Maria Comella, Christie's head of communications, after the last scheduled appearance was canceled.
The 52-year-old governor, known for his occasionally combative relations with the media, formed a political action committee in January, a prelude to a possible bid for the presidency in 2016.
ACTION ON ADDICTION
The governor visited a drug treatment center in south London, where he called for fellow Republicans to adopt a more compassionate approach to drug addiction, saying addicts needed treatment rather than jail.
Christie met recovering addicts at the center run by Action on Addiction, and said addiction should be treated like a disease rather than a personal failure. He said taking a hard line on drug addicts was the "easy" policy to take.
"All too often in both of our societies we have people who go for the lay-up, the easy stories," said Christie. "None of the people walking in here are easy stories."
The governor and his wife, who was with him for the visit, have made a priority of tackling drug abuse in New Jersey, where heroin use has skyrocketed in recent years.
He said those in his party who were opposed to abortion, on the principle that life is sacred, should be more sympathetic to those who had made mistakes.
"When I talk to folks in my party, being pro-life, I say it's easy to be pro-life when they're in the womb, they haven't done anything wrong yet, you know, they haven't made any bad judgements," he said.
"Tell me that you're pro-life with a kid who's lying on the floor of a jail cell basement, addicted to drugs."
The governor signed a bill in 2013 making medical marijuana available in some circumstances, but has been a staunch opponent of legalizing the drug.
(Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Larry King)