(Trenton) — New Jersey Democrats are reacting with outrage and embarrassment over the decision of Republican Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick to fall in line behind Governor Chris Christie and back Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, despite the candidate’s hateful policies and bigoted rhetoric.
In a curious display of bipartisan unity, Democrats were joined by prominent Republicans in rejecting the man that Christie once mocked as “the entertainer in chief” and a “carnival barker.”
Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee John Currie said, “For the last two years, if not longer, it has been abundantly clear that Chris Christie is a shameless, opportunistic bully with no core convictions and no respect for the people of New Jersey. But Mr. Bramnick should know better than to tow the line for a governor that abandoned him, his caucus, his state, and the principles his party once represented. If, by cheer-leading for Donald Trump and Chris Christie, he is signalling an interest in leading an even smaller minority, we will do our best to arrange that for him.”
Recently, Mr. Trump feigned ignorance about the Klu Klux Klan and refused to condemn its former grand wizard David Duke on CNN last weekend, which prompted the New York Daily News to dismiss Christie’s endorsement of Trump as "Man With A Klan."
Assemblyman Troy Singleton, who represents the 7th Legislative District, highlighted the racial aspect of Trump’s candidacy. “It is deeply disturbing that members of the party of Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, and the party of Ronald Reagan, who publicly disavowed and repudiated any and every tenet of the KKK, would capitulate to political opportunism instead of sticking to their principles. They are lending their party’s imprimatur to a political charlatan who preaches a doctrine of hate and divisiveness, and they should be held accountable for that,” said Singleton.
The endorsement of Trump by Christie and Bramnick was panned by Republican leaders, including the national finance co-chair for his failed presidential campaign. Ms. Meg Whitman called Donald Trump unfit to be president, saying he is “a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears,” and who “would take America on a dangerous journey.” Former Republican New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman went further, noting that, if the General Election contest is between Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she would vote for Clinton, a Democrat.
Despite the toxic nature of Trump's candidacy, State Senator Kevin O’Toole also jumped on the Donald Trump train, trying to spin the fervor around the provocative former reality star as a positive.
However, other members of Bramnick's own caucus found the Trump endorsement troublesome. As Politico-New Jersey reported, third-term Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli sees the endorsement as a sign that Christie will be abandoning the state again, and suggests he "really give consideration for what’s in the best interests of New Jersey and step down" -- a position more than 50 percent of New Jerseyans share.
Meanwhile, in an uncomfortable conversation with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Governor Christie struggled to defend Mr. Trump’s proposals, such as banning Muslims from entering America and making Mexico pay for a border wall — a notion that a former Mexican president soundly rejected.