03/15/2012 05:18 pm ET

Illinois Primary: Chris Christie Coming To Support Mitt Romney

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will swing through Illinois Thursday to once again support Mitt Romney in advance if Tuesday's GOP presidential primary there.

Christie will host a "Romney for President" rally at Elmhurst College Friday, and the candidate will join him, NBC Chicago reports.

Last month, Christie -- who considered running for president himself -- defended Romney during a telephone town hall in Michigan.

"I'm a little louder and a litter brasher than he is, and maybe that's because I'm from Jersey and he's not,” Christie said, according to "He's more reserved than me, but he's every bit of strong. I think he will take the strong stances that are necessary to win the election in November and when he gets to the White House, he’ll change our country."

Romney is expected to return to Illinois Monday and attend an election night rally in Wheaton on Tuesday, NBC Chicago reports.

With 54 delegates at stake and the emotional significance of battling in President Obama's home state, pundits and analysts predict the Illinois will host a more contentious standoff than in previous years. New York Times reporter Nate Silver called it "the perfect battle between the Romney coalition in the Chicago suburbs and the Santorum coalition downstate."