NORTH BERGEN – After lying relatively low during the majority of the pre-primary season, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez appeared alongside Chelsea Clinton to campaign for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the day before New Jersey voters take to the polls in the state primary.
“We need a president who understands the dangerous time that we live in,” Menendez told the crowd at the Renaissance Senior Building. He touted Clinton’s record as Secretary of State as a particularly strong reason why she should be elected president. Menendez also bashed presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump what he deemed poor judgment regarding foreign policy.
“Ultimately he thinks Vladimir Putin is a good guy,” Menendez said of Trump, referencing the president of Russia.
Menendez’s front-and-center presence at the event was especially relevant considering his ongoing battle against allegations that he accepted bribes in exchange for political favors. While Menendez was Clinton’s national campaign co-chair during the 2008 election campaign, he has only recently started to be an outspoken advocate for her during this election, notably writing an opinion piece for PolitickerNJ about why she is the right candidate to be president. Menendez’s support of Clinton and her campaign’s willingness to embrace him shows that New Jersey’s senior senator still has political clout despite his recent troubles. When Menendez was first indicted in March of 2015, there was some speculation that his indictment was a case of political retribution due to disagreements on high-profile topics like Israel, Cuba and Syria with the Obama administration. While that was never confirmed, if the claims are true, Menendez’s continued alliance with Clinton suggests that those same difficulties may not follow him to her administration to such a large extent if she becomes the next president.
The event was a ‘get out the vote’ (GOTV) event where Clinton and the other speakers encouraged voters to cast ballots for Secretary Clinton during Tuesday’s primary. Remarks were made by Menendez, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto in both English and Spanish. Chelsea Clinton had a translator who also conveyed her remarks to the crowd in Spanish. The population of North Bergen is over 68 percent Hispanic/Latino according to the U.S. Census. Clinton is expected to do well among Hispanic voters during New Jersey’s primary.
North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and a number of other elected officials were also present.
New Jersey’s primary is unusually relevant this year as Clinton continues to battle against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the nomination. Many, including those who spoke at the North Bergen GOTV event, feel that New Jersey could be the place where the nomination is decided because the state leans toward Clinton and could put her over the number of necessary delegates to earn the nomination when counting superdelegates who have aligned themselves with Clinton. Even so, Sanders says he will continue to fight onward to the July Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Chelsea Clinton held another GOTV event with Booker in Morris County on Monday. The primary is Tuesday, June 7.