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Corzine gets a call from the president

On a day when President Bush offered well-wishes, the governor walked twice, read and ate regular meals.

Some pretty big names have reached out to Gov. Corzine and his staff since he was critically injured in a car wreck April 12.

But the governor got what was perhaps the get-well call of all get-well calls yesterday, when President Bush rang him in his Camden hospital room to wish him a speedy recovery.

Corzine spokesman Anthony Coley said Bush, whose chief of staff had reached out on behalf of the White House shortly after Corzine's accident, called the governor shortly after 10 a.m.

"They spoke casually for a few minutes and the governor thanked the president for his call and well-wishes," Coley said.

Meanwhile, doctors at Cooper University Hospital, where Corzine was upgraded to stable condition and removed from the intensive-care unit earlier this week, continued to be pleased with his progress, Coley said.

The governor on Tuesday took his first steps since the wreck that broke his left thigh bone and fractured 11 ribs, his breastbone, collarbone and a vertebra.

Yesterday, he walked again twice, taking a few steps each time with the help of a walker, Coley said. He also read newspapers, watched television, and ate regular meals.

Coley said that earlier signs of tracheo-bronchitis had completely cleared, and that the governor remained on antibiotics to prevent infection in his badly wounded femur, which surgeons put back together with a steel pin and screws.

A tube remains in the governor's chest to drain fluid from around his left lung, and he is taking pain medication orally, Coley said.

Corzine's condition is a far cry from what it was when he was flown in from the crash site on the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.

State police have said that at the time of the wreck, Corzine was not wearing his seat belt and the state trooper driving him between official engagements was doing 91 m.p.h. They still are investigating the accident, and whether the trooper's use of excessive speed was appropriate.

Shortly after he was admitted to the hospital, doctors said Corzine, who remained on a ventilator for more than a week, was lucky to have survived.

He has had hundreds, if not thousands, of people - from grade-school students to Bush - pulling for him ever since.

One of those well-wishers, Gov. Rendell of Pennsylvania, is no stranger to traveling dangerously. In 2004, Rendell admitted to driving at "unconscionable" speeds after his limo was clocked repeatedly at speeds exceeding 100 m.p.h.

Yesterday, he told reporters that he always wore a seat belt, saying: "I never leave the house or the Capitol without buckling up." Rendell also said he now instructed his state police detail to drive at an "appropriate speed."

"That means sometimes we adhere to the speed limit, sometimes we don't," Rendell said. "I have told my troopers that I don't want them exceeding 80 m.p.h. unless they need to pass or unless there is some other exigent circumstance."