- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s fiscal stewardship Wednesday during a stop to raise money for Bentley’s re-election campaign and GOP executives in other states.

Christie and Bentley, speaking with reporters after touring a laboratory at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, heaped praise on each other before heading to a pair of private fundraisers at an exclusive club overlooking the city.

One event was to raise money for the Republican Governor’s Association, which Christie chairs, and the other was for the Bentley campaign.

Christie wouldn’t disclose the fundraising goal for the day, and neither would the Bentley campaign.

“We’re going to do just fine today in Alabama,” said Christie.

Christie said he and Bentley have developed a “great relationship” over the past four years, and he cited Republican efforts to make Alabama government leaner in calling Bentley “someone who gets things done.”

“The work he has done very quietly, professionally in Alabama to reduce the size of government by 12 percent, to reduce spending by $1.1 billion on an annualized basis, those are all things that are examples for the rest of the country,” Christie said.

Christie often is mentioned as a potential GOP candidate for the White House, and Bentley said he believed Christie would be “a great president.”

“I don’t know what his decision will be yet, that’s up to him. But he certainly has the attributes and he has the charisma and he cares about people,” Bentley said.

Christie said he is more conservative than many Alabama voters might expect, citing his stance against abortion, spending cuts in New Jersey, and vetoes of tax hikes.

“As I get to know the folks in Alabama better over time I think they’ll understand that I’m a pretty conservative guy,” said Christie.

Republican candidates swept statewide races in Alabama in both 2010 and 2012, when the Democratic party lost its last statewide office, and Bentley is considered a heavy favorite over Democratic gubernatorial nominee Parker Griffith in November.

From Alabama, Christie planned to travel to Biloxi, Mississippi, for a series of events with Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.

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