After once calling former President Donald Trump a "charlatan," New Jersey GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli has backed Trump but says he will not need his endorsement against Democrat incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy.
"If you watch my campaign really closely, I'm not into endorsements," Ciattarelli said in the final gubernatorial debate Tuesday night at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, which aired live on Newsmax. "I'm not into other people campaigning for me. People see right through those kind of things. I go out and meet and greet with the people of New Jersey every day of the week."
When pressed on whether he would allow Trump to stump for him before the November election, Ciattarelli demurred.
"I go out there and campaign on my own," he said. "I'll win my own election."
While Ciattarelli had been critical of Trump's past presidential candidacy, ostensibly suggesting he is a "fraud," he did acknowledge he backed Trump in the past election and has been impressed by Trump's "successes" in the White House.
"Over the four years, Donald Trump did have some successes at the national, international level – whether it was the economy, border security, hardball with China, moving the embassy of the United States to Jerusalem," Ciattarelli said. "I disagreed with him on where he was wrong on New Jersey. We don't want offshore drilling. We want funding for the Gateway project, and we want our SALT [state and local tax] deduction back."
Ciattarelli excoriated Murphy on abortion in New Jersey, saying the incumbent governor is more supportive of late-term abortions than the voters of the state are.
"No one supports abortion in months, seven, eight and nine, let alone having one to be performed by somebody other than MD [medical doctor]," Ciattarelli said. "No one supports their daughter seeking an abortion and the parents not knowing, if that daughter's under age.
"That's extremism. That's not New Jersey. That's Phil Murphy."
Ciattarelli also made a promise he would not adopt a Murphy tactic of blaming past administration's or Trump for the ongoing problems in the state.
"We hear repeatedly from you; It's always the previous administration's fault or Donald Trump's fault," he said. "Let me do something I rarely do, make a promise. I promise you this: When I take office in January, I will not blame the Murphy administration for anything [and] will get the job done."
The first-term governor has sought to link Ciattarelli, an accountant and former Assembly member, to Trump. Early in-person voting starts Oct. 23 and runs through Halloween.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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