KEARNY — Joe Biden’s remarks about Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s incendiary campaign ad on illegal immigration are just an attempt by the former vice president to “remain relevant so he can run for president again,” Gov. Chris Christie said Friday.
The Guadagno ad charges that Democratic candidate Phil Murphy would be inviting chaos by turning New Jersey into a “sanctuary state,” as he is considering. Guadagno says such a policy would have protected Jose Carranza, an undocumented immigrant from Peru who in 2014 shot four Newark teens, killing three.
“Make no mistake, Murphy will have the backs of deranged murderers,” the ad’s narrator says. “Phil Murphy doesn’t have our backs. He has theirs.”
Biden at an appearance with Murphy on Thursday called Guadagno’s ad “the return of Willie Horton,” referencing a 1988 political that tied Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis to crimes committed by Horton after he was released from prison on furlough.
“Vice President Biden is trying to continue to be relevant because he wants to run for president, so he has to say outrageous things so that you all will cover him,” Christie told reporters following an unrelated news conference Friday. “Otherwise you know the old story: ‘A woman had two sons, one went to sea and the other became vice president and neither were ever heard from again.'”
In a rare instance of sticking up for his lieutenant governor, Christie said the content of Guadagno’s ad was “fair game.” The governor also criticized Murphy for his often-invoked campaign slogan that he will “have the backs” of New Jersey residents if elected.
“Ambassador Murphy is the master of the cliche,” Christie said. “So I think Lieutenant Governor Guadagno is raising a very important and appropriate issue and it is unfortunate for Ambassador Murphy that he is going to have to answer something beyond a cliche. There are still three weeks left in this campaign, he might have to get beyond the cliches that he ‘has our back.’ Nobody knows what the hell that means.”
At the same event Friday, Sen. Cory Booker told reporters the ad was “despicable” and said that it did not accurately reflect the views of New Jersey voters. Booker said that by launching the ad, Guadagno was invoking the campaign tactics of President Trump.
“That belongs in the gutter; it doesn’t belong in New Jersey,” Booker said of the ad. “And I know Kim. Kim is actually a really good person. But for her to take on Trump-like tactics and engage in that kind of vile fear-mongering and demagoguery, this is not becoming of her or her campaign. I am hoping that knowing her and knowing who she is, I am hoping that she realizes this.”
Booker called on Guadagno to apologize for the ad, noting that at the time of the murders he was the mayor of Newark.
“That evil, that despicable evil, to exploit that for political gain is an insult to the families that suffered a tragic loss, it is an insult to the community of Newark, which I still live in,” Booker said. “I was stunned. I just could not believe this was someone running for statewide office in New Jersey. In New Jersey, this is not who we are and I am deeply offended.”
Christie also faulted Biden for his reaction to the news that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was facing sexual assault charges from multiple women. Guadagno similarly criticized Murphy for ties to Weinstein at Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate.
“It took him, you know what, five days to say something about Harvey Weinstein who he has taken all kinds of money from over time,” Christie said of Biden. “He wasn’t nearly as vocal about that and I didn’t hear him talk too deeply about the corruption of that, the corruption of allowing a powerful man to sexually harass what appears to be dozens and dozens of women over time and use his power to either have sex with them or to ruin their careers in the alternative.”
When an Access Hollywood video surfaced just before the 2016 election of President Trump talking inappropriately about women, Christie called the remarks “indefensible.” But it took the governor three days to issue a statement.