As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum intensified their push for votes in Illinois, President Barack Obama used a fundraising trip yesterday to his hometown of Chicago to poke fun at the contentious Republican race.

At a fundraiser in Chicago, Obama mentioned another president who, like him, adopted Illinois as his home state, Abraham Lincoln. “Welcome to the Land of Lincoln,” he said of the Republicans seeking to run against him. “Maybe some Lincoln will rub off on them while they are here.”

Ahead of the state’s March 20 primary, Romney deployed his top surrogate to paint Santorum as unqualified for the White House. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, appearing on Romney’s behalf in suburban Chicago, also told several hundred students and others that their votes next week could be decisive.

“Governor Romney needs to show our party and our country that he’s not only competing everywhere, but that he can win everywhere,” he said at Elmhurst College. “Illinois, you are going to turn the corner for Mitt Romney on Tuesday.”

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