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Gov. Chris Christie welcomed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to the Garden State on Monday with some seven-figure love.
Christie said a private fundraiser for Romney in northern New Jersey brought in $1.1 million to help the candidate compete in early nominating contests such as Iowa's and New Hampshire's.
This was the first Romney fundraiser that Christie has held since endorsing the former Massachusetts governor.
"New Jersey tonight is officially Mitt Romney country,'' Christie said to rousing applause. "Mitt Romney is the best-qualified man to be president of the United States and the only man who can send Barack Obama back to Illinois.''
Neither Christie nor Romney mentioned Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who has surged ahead of Romney in recent polls.
The private fundraiser at the Hilton hotel in Parsippany also was to showcase Christie's power to unify the state party and garner important endorsements from county party chairmen across the state.
All 21 GOP county chairs were on stage with Romney and Christie. Most of the Republican delegation in the Legislature also was there.
"We are here with you, all of us, in New Jersey,'' Christie said.
General admission tickets went for $500. Those donating $2,500 or bundling such donations were treated to VIP receptions.
Romney, who spoke for 13 minutes, talked about growing up in Michigan, how his parents taught their children to love America on a trip through the country's national parks and the meaning of patriotism. He said the United States must continue to chart its own course, not follow Europe's examples.
"These are principles that are enduring. They are God-given,'' he said. "These are principles I would restore to Washington so we might have freedom, we might be strong, so we might care for those in need and that we might remain the shining city on the hill.''
Bill Palatucci, a longtime Christie adviser and Republican National Committee member from New Jersey, said: "The Christie team wanted to demonstrate its support for the governor's endorsement of Mitt Romney, and I think we have.''
Christie, who briefly considered running for the White House, said he was unconcerned about recent polls showing Gingrich moving ahead of Romney.
"If I were concerned about Newt Gingrich, I'd have had to be concerned about Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, all of whom held similar leads to the leads speaker Gingrich holds now over Governor Romney in various states,'' Christie said.
"In the end no one has voted yet, and when people start to vote I think they'll decide Governor Romney is the person who is best going to serve our party and is the absolute best person to defeat President Obama next November.''
Christie defended Romney's offer to make a $10,000 bet with Perry, the Texas governor, over Perry's claim that Romney made changes to parts of his book, ``No Apology.''
"I know what Governor Romney was trying to do there,'' Christie said. "He picked a very large number because he wanted to display to the public just how sure he was that Rick Perry was lying about what was in his book.''