ELMHURST, Illinois — Gov. Chris Christie hit the campaign trail for Mitt Romney Friday, exhorting Illinois Republicans to give the former Massachusetts governor a big victory in Tuesday’s primary and show the country that he is on his way to winning the nomination.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) (Mel Evans/AP)

Calling the Illinois primary “extraordinarily important,” Christie told an overflow audience at Elmhurst College, “Governor Romney needs to show our party and our country that he’s not only competing everywhere that he can win everywhere.”

Christie praised Romney as a candidate who would need no on-the-job training in dealing with the economy and who would deal forthrightly with the nation’s debt and deficit problems.

He also said Romney would find a way to bridge partisan divisions in Washington by bringing Democrats and Republicans in Congress together. Citing Romney’s work with a Democratic legislature in Massachusetts, he said, “Mitt Romney’s done it, he knows how to do it and he’ll do it” in Washington.

Challenging the argument that Romney’s wealth is somehow disqualifying, Christie said, “Do we really want a failure in the White House?” He said what he personally doesn’t want is a community organizer, which President Obama was in his youth.

The New Jersey governor called Romney’s opponents “good and decent” men but said their experience in Congress leaves them ill equipped to take on the challenges of being the country’s chief executive.

“Let’s be wary about sending another member of Congress to the White House,” he said.

Christie called himself an inherent optimist about the future of the country and then, surveying the crowd, said he spotted another optimist. “He’s wearing a Cubs T-shirt,” Christie said, as he quickly added, “I have a heart and I can empathize. I’m a Mets fan. We’re worse off than you are.” As some in the crowd began to boo, he quipped, “It’s okay to boo… we stink anyway.”