OAK CREEK, Wis. - Gov. Christie parachuted into the middle of the country Tuesday to lend some of his self-styled Jersey tough-guy firepower to a beleaguered and controversial Republican governor on the front lines of the war to roll back spending on public employees.
Carrying his union-battling reputation, his possible vice-presidential-candidate aura, and his perch as No. 2 at the Republican Governors Association, Christie rallied the faithful and helped fill the coffers of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a recall election.
Almost immediately after entering office last year, Walker became a lightning rod around the nation for his push to end most collective bargaining rights for nearly all unionized public workers. Protesters slept in the halls of the state Capitol, and Democratic legislators fled the state for a while to delay a vote. More than 900,000 signatures were collected to recall Walker.
If the winner of a Democratic primary next week defeats Walker in the June 5 recall election, Walker will become only the third governor in American history to be recalled.
But while Christie said he spoke to Walker regularly during last year's controversy, the New Jersey governor mentioned the word union only once in two appearances with Walker on Tuesday.
Instead, Christie listed his own fiscal accomplishments in New Jersey, promised an income-tax cut in the state by July 1, and spoke broadly about "special interests that have owned these state capitals for too long."