Drawing on stories of his triumphs as a Republican governor challenged by a Democratic legislature in New Jersey, Chris Christie, on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, rallied a group of about 400 people at Elmhurst College Friday afternoon.
"There are going to be some skeptics and cynics that say Washington, D.C., is so fatally broken that we can't (fix it), we can't change minds," he said. "Let me tell you, I've just come from New Jersey. Let's talk about what people thought was not possible in New Jersey."
Sometimes sounding as if he was still a presidential candidate, himself, Christie talked about running in 2009 against an incumbent state governor "who outspent me three to one."
"They said it's not possible for a Republican to get elected in New Jersey. Well, here I am," he said.
He spoke about cutting spending and balancing the budget by making tough choices and carrying his message directly to the people. He compared his term as governor to that of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
"Here's the difference between Republican governance and Democratic governance. Quinn raised your taxes, I vetoed the tax increase in New Jersey," he said.
He said Romney will do the same thing in Washington.
"I do know in my heart that America needs a different direction now. America needs someone who knows how to use executive authority," he said. "We don't need any more on-the-job training in the Oval Office like we've had the last four years."
He pointed to Romney's business background and said he will make government smaller to allow small businesses to thrive.
"He did what American entrepreneurs have done better than any other entrepreneurs around the world: He created wealth for himself and he created wealth for lots of other people," he said. "He will get government out of the way so small business owners can (thrive)."
He said the culture in Washington looks down on people who are successful.
"What is this argument? Do we really want a failure in the White House?" he said. "The argument is that somehow being successful disqualifies him from being president. Here's one set of people I don't think we want in the White House anymore: Community organizers."
He said Americans are cynical.
"There are citizens in this state and every state who have been run down by how bad government's been, how it's overtaxed, overspent, over-borrowed, mortgaged our future," he said. "They've not been given a chance to succeed in our country."
As Tuesday's Primary approaches, Illinoisans can be confident that Romney is "a good, decent, honest man of integrity," he said.
"Everything he's done in his life has shown us that," he said. "He's a loyal husband, attentive father, doting grandfather, created jobs to help other people support their families, given generously of the wealth he's earned to charities all across the country. He is the best person to represent the country."
It's not often that the state of Illinois is a big factor in the presidential Primary, but for this race, there is no clear front-runner yet.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, in introducing Christie, said a poll released Friday morning showed Romney with a 6 percent lead in Illinois over candidate Rick Santorum.
"You all know how important Illinois is going to be this coming Tuesday," Christie said. "It's extraordinarily important. (Romney) needs to show he's not only competing everywhere, but he can win everywhere."
He also reminded voters that they not only need to vote for their candidate, but also the candidate's delegates, as well.
"You need to vote for all of them. Let's not mess this up," he said. "We don't want any hanging chads. We don't want to have any mistakes.
"I'll bet you never thought you'd sit through a speech where a guy from New Jersey would be telling you how to vote."
The rally was peaceful, with no disruptions or protests at the decidedly liberal Elmhurst College. Christie's talk was interrupted many times, however, by cheers and applause.
"It was great to see the mix of people in the crowd—people from the community, as well as faculty and students from the college," Elmhurst College Managing Director of Public Affairs Desiree Chen said Friday. "We were very pleased that the Romney campaign responded to our invitation to come visit our campus, and glad to welcome Gov. Christie on Romney's behalf. We hope the other presidential candidates, as well as President Obama, will take us up on our offer, as well."
Claire Walker from Addison is an Elmhurst student.
"I'm thrilled to see that a liberal college like Elmhurst would have Chris Christie speak," she said. "Honestly, I was impressed. I loved every minute of it."
Her husband, Evan, also is a Romney supporter.
"He's doing the right thing. We need more people like him," he said.
Georgiana Oken of Park Ridge said she was impressed with the civility of the gathering.
"The people there who were (Democrats) were very respectful," she said.
"I know the best candidate is Mitt Romney because of his integrity. He loves his country. He's for you and me."
In speaking with several audience members, Elmhurst Patch did not encounter any Democrats. Are you a Democrat who attended? What did you think of Gov. Christie's speech? Tell us in the comments.