- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (AP) - Laying groundwork for a potential 2016 bid, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told supporters in suburban Chicago on Thursday that he and first-term Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner could take similar approaches to running states with divided government.

Christie frequently visited Illinois last year to boost Rauner’s campaign as the then-Republican Governors Association chairman. Rauner, a venture capitalist, ousted Democrat Pat Quinn in November to become the state’s first GOP governor in more than a decade. Christie said that such support was critical in “tough neighborhoods” like Democrat-leaning Illinois and that challenges were ahead for Rauner, particularly in working with Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate.

“Bruce Rauner and I compare notes all the time in that regard,” Christie told a receptive crowd of nearly 1,000 people at a fundraiser in Rolling Meadows. “But what I’ve told him is, when you’re governor, you don’t have the luxury to say, ‘I won’t work with the other side.’”

Christie’s Illinois visit comes as he’s building support for a possible 2016 run. His backers recently launched a political action committee allowing him to raise money and pay for travel.

He was in Iowa this week and is scheduled to be in New Hampshire next week. Both are critical early voting states.

In Iowa, he told supporters he wasn’t too blunt or direct for any place in the country. He said Thursday that was especially the case in Illinois.

During his nearly half-hour speech, he blasted President Barack Obama’s leadership on foreign policy, including his plan to authorize military force against Islamic State fighters.

Christie said Obama had reversed course, saying “his American leadership is not being asserted around the world.”

Christie’s schedule Thursday included two round table meetings in Chicago that were closed to the press. Christie’s PAC did not respond to questions about who would be attending.

Tickets to the 8th Annual Northwest Suburban Republican Lincoln Day Dinner cost $100 or $250 for a private reception and photo op with Christie. Organizers estimated they’d raise $150,000. Rauner did not attend the event.

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Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed from Trenton, New Jersey.

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