Former President Clinton Stumps for Gottheimer

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, seeking re-election to represent the 5th district in New Jersey, launched the last leg of his get out the vote drive with a well-attended rally at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall in Paramus.  The keynote speaker was former President Bill Clinton.

The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by Sheriff Anthony Cureton with short speeches following by the Democratic candidates of Column 2, among them Tom SullivanMaryAmoroso, and Germaine Ortiz.  

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said, “For the last eight years, we’ve worked on your behalf every day making a better Bergen County for all of you.  So, we need you, for the next two and a half days, to work for us. We need your help. We need you to talk to your neighbors, talk to your relatives… so everyone has a better life. We are the ones who can do that. Thank you for everything that you’ve done for us. After Tuesday, we will continue to work for you every day.”

From neighboring CD-9, Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. came to speak on behalf of Gottheimer.  He warned of the dangers posed to democracy and reminded the audience of the perils the members of congress faced on January 6, 2021.  “Don’t think this year or next year is going to be any different than what we saw on January 6.  We’ve got to be prepared for that. We want peace. Well, you better be able to defend that.  Democracy doesn’t fall out of the sky. There’s not one ethnic group that hasn’t been challenged by these lunatics—not one.”

Pascrell spoke at length about the American Rescue Plan, responding to the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic.  “These were impactful laws. By the way, as we get closer to the election, [Republicans] are showing what they’re really about—questioning the existence of Social Security and Medicare. These people are what I said to you before—lunatics.  Do you know how many people are living on social security checks? We have a blessing for next year: increases for Social Security because of the cost of items and groceries.”

The Paterson-based congressman blasted Republicans for taking credit for the work advanced despite their opposition. “These guys show up for photo ops when a bridge is going to be fixed or when a road is going to be put in.  But then they vote no on the infrastructure bill.  That was like the last congressman, when Josh cleaned his clock and sent him on his way to the beautiful hills of Sussex County,” Pascrell said, referring to former Congressman Scott Garrett.  “We all worked hard on that, and we all came out.  That’s very important. That’s a big deal and Tuesday’s going to be a big deal. This election is just as important as Joe Biden’s.”

The bipartisan infrastructure bill has been one of Congressman Gottheimer’s key planks in his campaign, one which he has defined as a moderate, commonsense approach to governance prioritizing brick-and-mortar improvements in the district.

First Lady Tammy Murphy spoke following Pascrell.  She said that Bergen County leaders had taken a unified approach to governance.  “We’re talking about everybody in this hall, who was either trying to get into or maintain a foothold in this economy that continues to be reeling following one of the biggest crises of a generation,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.  “I’m really proud of the steps that we’ve taken here in New Jersey to overcome some of these obstacles and challenges over the past couple years. I also know without the support and collaboration of partners on the ground, like Josh and Jim, there is no way that we would be able to bridge the divide and seek common ground.  To have these leaders who really understand how to listen and build us back, to lead. If we are committed to lifting up working families, to maintaining our first-in-country school system, to ensuring that we build the infrastructure in the 21st century, and all the while ensuring affordable health care, we have to elect leaders who focus on all of these priorities, and not just pick one. Here in Bergen County, you have exactly that leadership.”

Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano saluted President Clinton, thanking him for coming and described Gottheimer as “a man that has a proven record in Congress, fighting for police officers, firefighters, trade unions, school teachers, and the people he knows, the people of District 5 in Bergen County.”

When Gottheimer approached the podium, he spoke briefly but touched on the inspiration that President Clinton was for him, listing a number of accomplishments made during his administration.  “You made smart, hard choices to ensure America’s growth, prosperity, and safety, because it was always about both opportunity and responsibility. As I always said, I am a proud Bill Clinton Democrat.  This Tuesday’s election is about the fight for affordability for smart investments and fiscal responsibility, for lower taxes and lower prescription drug prices, for paying down the debt and investing in clean energy, for funding the police to fight crime and terror, and protecting our communities. All the things that this Congress has accomplished the last two years, and don’t ever forget about that.”

Gottheimer is no stranger to Clinton.  He served as a speech writer for the president while working in the White House in the 90s.  Clinton said that Gottheimer was one of the youngest presidential speech writers in history at the time and he did “a pretty good job.”  He expressed that he was proud to see the Congressman win elections.

Clinton’s address touched on the achievements that the Democratic-controlled legislature has advanced during the Biden years, touching on the American Rescue Plan, Infrastructure Bill, Chips Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.  “Hillary decided we had to redecorate our den, and we’re still waiting for the furniture, and why is that?  Almost everything that is made in the world requires computer chips.  A lot of them are made in China and China is still watching their economy bounce.  They’re not worried about it because they’ve got a forced 40% savings rate that they can live on while the rest of the world is miserable, and they think it’ll increase their power in the long run.  So what does America do?  We adopted the Chips Act and we’re bringing that manufacturing home.  That is anti-inflation for two reason: we are making it here and second, we get it quicker and the transportation costs much cheaper.  How many Republicans voted for it?  Twenty-four.  Eleven percent of their caucus.”

Clinton said that the Inflation Reduction Act capped senior out of pocket drug expenses to $2000 annually, capped insulin costs at $35 a month, “and we joined every other advanced country in the world, allowing our government to bargain for lower prices of drugs.”  Climate change investment, he said, was for job-related purposes, bringing benefits.

The former president took a jab at California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy.  “One thing I like about McCarthy is in 2020 they were voting for the first time in the history of any political party and had no platform. Their platform was bad mouthing us.”  He praised the late Senator John McCain as the one vote which derailed President Trump’s desire to throw out the American Care Act.

Clinton said that seniors pay for social security and Medicare, but that Republicans want to cut those programs.  “Their senate campaign chairman, the senator from Florida, said, ‘I got an even better idea, I’ll make it easy for you. We’ll just abolish both programs every five years and then let them get re-enacted so when we have control of Congress we will just enact a shadow of a former program.’ And you say ‘they won’t do that’.  That’s what they said when Hillary told them they were going to repeal Roe v Wade. They said that’s not going to happen in 2016, and in the media, they laughed at her.”

Clinton said that this does not reflect the view of every Republican, however, and praised Gottheimer’s willingness to reach across the aisle.  “That’s the morally right thing to do, it’s the politically smart thing to do. We’ve got to get America back to a functioning political system. But you have to realize it is almost impossible to get somebody to do the right thing, when all the rewards are for doing the wrong thing… The other day the president signed into law a bill that was truly bipartisan.  It gives more funds to help small towns and communities hire, retain, and train police officers.  It is a really good bill, and [Gottheimer] was there.  If you want more of that and less of this other stuff, you got to vote for somebody that’s on the level.  That’s my pitch.  It is straightforward, from the heart, I’m not calling anybody names, I’m just telling you what they’re for, and what we’re for. We have got to stop rewarding deliberate, destructive, divisive misconduct.  When we do, we do better. We can have an America we can share, and we can see problems as they are, and do what makes sense, and Josh has done a stunningly good job.”

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