Joe Biden and Chris Christie, two regular-guy politicians with big mouths and even bigger Oval Office dreams, descended upon Chicago Monday to raise money for the hotly contested Illinois governor race on both sides of the aisle.
Deployed by the White House, which is eager to keep Illinois blue, Biden cleared the whole day to stump for embattled Gov. Pat Quinn and other state Democrats in Chicago, charging up the diehard base here. The veep's charm offensive included headlining a $15,000-per-plate dinner event to pad Quinn's campaign war chest amid a neck-and-neck race against multi-millionaire GOP nominee Bruce Rauner.
Helping out his former Obama Administration colleague, Biden also penciled in a photo-op with former Chief-of-Staff-turned-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address City Hall's progressive-minded proposal to boost the minimum wage from $8.25 to $13.
Meanwhile, the GOP dispatched New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association, to the Windy City in an apparent effort to overshadow Biden's star power. Drowning in controversy but oozing Everyman charisma, Christie has made several trips here in the last few months to rustle up cash for Rauner now that some of the Bridge-Gate taint has lifted (and his peers are open to being seen with him again). Several weeks ago, he gobbled Portillo's hot dogs with the Winnetka governor and presented the candidate with a $2.5 million check.
With less than three months until November's election, national pollsters are pivoting predictions to favor Rauner as the contender gains growing support among voters outside of Chicago. Republicans view Rauner as one of the biggest opportunities to pick up a governorship—and flip the state.
"It's an incredibly important race. Especially for somebody like me as the chairman of the RGA who is a blue state governor," Christie told reporters Monday, when asked about Biden's counter-fundraising efforts. "If I'm not out here supporting the efforts of Republicans in states like this, where they've really worked hard and they've got this race in a position where they can win it, I gotta be there to support it."
While Rauner was dropping off his son to college in Maine, Christie hit the stump as his surrogate. He swung by Rauner's campaign center and squeezed in a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who's running for re-election against Democrat Ann Callis in the 13th congressional district.
Said Christie, "As far as the vice president is concerned, I've known him for a long time. He'll be doing his work, I'll be doing mine."