The signs in the crowd read "Ventura for Prez" and "The People's Governor," but Jesse Ventura wasn't at a political forum.
Returning to his pro wrestling roots, Minnesota's governor ducked out of the National Governors' Association meeting to appear at a televised World Wrestling Federation event promoting his appearance later this month as a guest referee.
"They have called on Jesse Ventura 'cause I'm the only one to deliver law and order," said Ventura, who took a flight from St. Louis, the site of the governors' gathering, to Chicago on Monday.
Ventura will be a guest referee at the Aug. 22 match between federation champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H in Minneapolis.
Appearing in the ring with Triple H and WWF commissioner Shawn Michaels, Ventura spoke in a menacing voice reminiscent of his wrestling days.
"This is not Minnesota. This is my world," Triple H told the governor in what appeared to be a well-rehearsed scene that included Ventura stepping in to break up a shoving match between Michaels and Triple H.
"What this is, is politics," Ventura said, as the crowd of more than 20,000 screamed "Jesse, Jesse, Jesse."
Among those who came to see Ventura was Rosemont taxi driver Jamal Alawaiyed, 42, who said he liked Ventura as a wrestler and thinks he will be a good governor.
"He's from the people," Alawaiyed said. "People make too much that he was a wrestler. Reagan was an actor and people voted for him."
Ventura has said he will donate to charity the $100,000 fee he is getting from the WWF to referee. He also has said the event will not demean his position as governor, likening it to former NBA star Bill Bradley, a Democratic presidential candidate, returning to basketball to referee a game.
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