Insider NJ’s Presidential War Room: Donald Trump Rallies In Jersey (Updated 1:35PM)

and the Republican Party

President Trump offered this tweet following his Jersey rally:


From Snowflack:

WILDWOOD – He should have called him “Jersey Joe.”
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, co-chair of the Trump campaign in New Jersey, identified himself as such when he ran for the U.S Senate a number of years ago.
President Trump naturally gave Pennacchio a shout out during his rally Tuesday night, but he mispronounced his name. It came out PINN-NO-CHE-O.
I couldn’t resist sending Pennacchio a text about all this.
He replied with good humor, saying, “I will write him a strongly worded letter.”
So there.

From the gin mill: Veteran InsiderNJ Columnist Fred Snowflack’s pre-midnight Jan. 28. filing – and it’s a gem.

A Trump lookalike.
A Trump lookalike on the boardwalk.

The railing.

From Wildwood, President Trump tonight attempted to establish a nationally symbolic beachhead in New Jersey, with CD2 as ground zero of that effort, as he capitalized on Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s party switch from Democrat to Republican.

Recognized from the stage by President Trump tonight along with fellow NJ Trump Campaign Co-Chair (and fellow State Senator) Joe Pennacchio, LD1 State Senator Mike Testa offered the following thoughts after the rally:

“Humbling. Overwhelming. I predict great things for New Jersey and the President of these United States. Congressman Jeff Van Drew wins by double digits and President Donald J. Trump gets four more years.”

Trump backers

Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman tonight spoke to InsiderNJ about the CD-2 Democratic Primary.

Freeholder Bennett’s speech tonight in Wildwood:

Freeholder Bennett’s speech tonight can be read here.

Trump Administration joins Cape May and Ocean county in lawsuit challenging NJ Attorney General Grewal’s Immigrant Trust Directive

Friends and Allies,

The Trump administration has persistently worked to undermine what the people and elected officials have chosen in New Jersey. The top law-enforcement official of our state has worked with immigrant communities advocates to design policies that keep our communities the safest.
We know that the attacks from Cape May, Ocean County, and the Justice Department are fueled by xenophobia and white supremacy, and we will continue to support initiatives that allow our communities to live with dignity

Kevin Escobar
Organizer and Advocacy Assistant
Wind of the Spirit

Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett, CD2 candidate, awaits her turn to speak at tonight's Indivisible rally.
Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett, CD2 candidate, awaits her turn to speak at tonight’s Indivisible rally.

Sue Altman, director of New Jersey Working Families, addressed the crowd organized by Indivisible:

From InsiderNj Columnist Fred Snowflack, who’s on the ground in Wildwood:

An anti-Trump group of protestors held forth in a parking lot below the Boardwalk.
That, of course, allowed Trump boosters to stand on the Boardwalk, peer over a railing, watch the show and heckle.
There’s nothing like Democracy in action.
“They’re f….. idiots,” was the observation of one man on the Boardwalk.
Soon chants arose.
“Four more years,” from the Trump crowd.
To which, the crowd below retorted, “Lock him up, Lock him up.”
A woman identifying herself as a teacher railed against what she called the president’s sexism and racism.
“Four more years” was the chant. And then it was superseded by another chant, “Build the wall.”

Prior to the rally, a man attacked and deflated a Trump balloon and was subdued.

‘We are one glorious nation under God’, said the President, saying New Jersey is a ‘place I love’.  ‘Together, we will make America wealthy again.  We will make American strong again.  We will make America proud again.  We will make America safe again.  And we will make America great again! Thank you New Jersey’, said Trump, as he ends the rally.

‘From Morristown to Vineland, and Paterson to Pennington, and Camden to Clifton, all the way down the shore to Ocean City and Sea Isle and Stone Harbor, and right here in Wildwood, this has always been the home of the proud, loyal, and very very incredible Americans, and my friends’, said Trump.  ‘They’re tough, they’re smart, they’re great people, its called Jersey. This is the state that pioneered the boardwalk, the diner, and the motion picture, and gave the world American greats like Thomas Edison and Frank Sinatra’, Trump said.

The crowd outside the venue who couldn’t get in:

The President references increased funding for Jersey military bases.

Launching into healthcare, Trump says Republicans are making progress in making healthcare cheaper and more transparent, defending doctor and plan choice, lowering drug prices, and fighting lobbyists.  ‘We are unleashing innovation to cure diseases of all kinds’, he said.

Post November, ‘we’ll have a new Speaker’.

‘Democrats stand for crime, corruption, and chaos.  Republicans stand for law, order, and justice’. The crowd starts to chant ‘build the wall!’  Trump says we just reached 100 miles of border wall, next year it will be 400, and will be completed shortly thereafter.

‘Look you have criminals on the street who should be taken the hell out of our country and brought back to where they came from’, praising ICE for the removal of MS13 gang members.  ‘You don’t wanna do that job’, he says, adding ‘they’re tough people, they’ll go right into a pack’…’they bring the MS13 gang members back’ to their countries.

Speaking in a state where the Governor has implemented an ‘immigrant trust directive’, President Trump takes aim.  ‘Right here in New Jersey, your state’s Democrat leaders have instituted sanctuary policies’ that result in ‘dangerous predators’ begin released.

‘Globalist politicians lowered our economic defenses and allowed other nations to steal our factories…and ransack our communities.  Not anymore, because we are defenseless no longer, because you have a President who puts America first’.

‘The US lost 60,000 factories…because of stupid trade deals…in just 3 years, my administration has added 12,000 new factories’ he said.  ‘They are pouring back into our country’.

‘I past two of them on my way in’, he said.  ‘We want you to have your companies build plants in New Jersey’.

‘The United States is now the number one product of gas and oil anywhere in the world…we don’t need anyone else’s energy anymore’, chiding DC Democrats for wanting to ‘shut down new energy’ and impose the Green New Deal.  ‘We will never sacrifice America’s energy independence’.

‘Under President Barack Hussein Obama, it was $975…under your favorite President…no one has ever cut taxes like this…under President Trump, for three years, the number is almost $10,000, and its going up…that’s a big difference’.

Speaking about job creation, President Trump labeled it a ‘blue collar boom’, citing faster wage growth for the bottom 47% than for the top 1%.

NJ Democrats lost no time in blasting GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, present at the rally, dredging up the time the candidate said Trump wasn’t fit to be president.

Trump mentions Chris Christie (‘great job Chris’ and NJGOP Chairman Steinhardt, as well as co-chairs Testa and Pennacchio.  ‘Two great politicians who love our state’, pronouncing Pennacchio’s name as ‘Pinno-chee-oh’.  Trump also mentioned Jersey native Kellyanne Conway, who took the stage to say ‘Mr. President, I think South Jersey is Trump country!’

‘What he did was incredible’, Trump says of Van Drew, and predicts a ‘big victory’ in November.

‘We set the all-time record” in this venue, says Trump, complimenting the arena as ‘beautiful’.  He compliments Wildwood as a ‘great place’ during the summer, marveling at the crowd sizes in the winter.

Trump says Van Drew told him 175,000 people requested tickets; the President takes a moment to blast the ‘fake news’ covering the rally, as the crowd boos.  The President begins his familiar riff on crowd sizes at his rallies.

‘Are we going to keep our country great??’ Van Drew rhetorically asks the crowd, before giving the podium back to the President.

Van Drew says that when he asked the President to come to South Jersey, the President didn’t hesitate. He sent this via Facebook moments ago:

‘What a great day!’ said Van Drew, saying how great it is to have President Trump in South Jersey, urging the crowd to cheer.

As the crowd cheered, Trump praised Van Drew: ‘We are honored to be here with your great Congressman Jeff Van Drew’, saying the former Democrat had ‘had enough’ of the Democratic Party. “Jeff had the guts to defy the left wing fanatics in his own party’, he said, adding that ‘he’s a great guy, he’s a brave guy.’

‘Really, the Democrat Party is the socialist party, and maybe worse’ and we are ‘welcoming them into our party with wide open arms’, referencing Jeff Van Drew.

The President wasted no time in labeling his political opponents: ‘Crazy Bernie Sanders’ and ‘Nervous Nancy Pelosi’ as he says they are ‘obsessed with crazy hoaxes’ and ‘witch hunts and partisan crusades’

President Trump has taken the stage in Wildwood. “I love New Jersey and I’m thrilled to be back here in the Garden State’, as he launches into the state’s employment rate.  “More people are working than ever before’, he said, referring to the ‘highest employment rate in history of our country’.

Glimpsed in the crowd: NJGOP Chairman Steinhardt, and Trump State Campaign Co-Chairs Senators Testa and Pennacchio.

To tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the crowd awaits the President:

President Trump will enter with Rep. Van Drew, according to NJTV’s Brianna Vannozi.

The rally is about to start: watch NJTV’s live stream below:


Governor Murphy and NJ Democratic Chairman Currie released a statement ahead of tonight’s rally, saying Trump’s ‘failed record stands in stark contrast to what we’ve been able to accomplish here in New Jersey’ and  its a ‘disgrace that Congressman Van Drew would choose to stand with Trump here in New Jersey, where we pride ourselves on diversity and inclusivity’.

Zero Hour Wildwood: a DCCC anti Van Drew truck and a prayer for Trump…

Trump Truck

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli is in Wildwood, for Trump’s rally, greeting arrivals.


In addition to Trump, there are two Kennedy’s in New Jersey today – resident Amy Kennedy, of course, running in the CD2 Democratic primary, and family member Robert Kennedy Jr, who fundraised earlier today for LD20 Assemblyman Holley, raising $100k at a luncheon fundraiser.

In perhaps a theme the President will hone in on tonight at his re-election rally, Trump tweeted earlier today:

The DCCC released a statement ahead of tonight’s rally, calling it a ‘Van Drew coronation’ that will ‘cost hundreds of thousands’ for Wildwood.  GOP Senate primary candidate Stuart Meissner welcomed Trump to Jersey, saying his ‘visit here demonstrates his commitment to campaigning not just where it is easy, but where there are new opportunities to be won’.

On the Wildwood boardwalk, pro-Trump forces looked down into the parking lot where the anti-Trump forces gathered.  It began…

Pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces clash on the boardwalk:


On the boardwalk in Wildwood, CD2 Democratic primary candidate Robert Turkavage passes out flyers:

More Turkavage

The latest scene in Wildwood:

Photos below from James Tricarico of Hoboken:

According to the Wildwood Convention Center, the doors to the venue will open at 3pm, four hours ahead of the scheduled 7pm start time

Early this afternoon, backers of President Trump descended on the boardwalk with Wildwood, creating a sea of people next to the ocean, ahead of the rally at 7pm.  LD1 GOP Assemblyman Antwan McLellan said ‘I’m excited’ and that ‘the amount of people willing to stand outside – it says a lot‘.

Trump backers rally in Wildwood.
Trump backers rally in Wildwood.

Pre-rally scenes in Wildwood:

As all of New Jersey’s political world knows – and the state in general – President Trump is hours away from holding his re-election rally in Wildwood, offering support for CD2 GOP Rep. Jeff Van Drew.  A conservative Democratic legislator by nature – and by the contours of his district – when he was in the state Senate, Van Drew succeeded retiring GOP Rep. LoBiondo in 2018, heading straight into the heart of Washington’s partisan gridlock.  He grappled with the impeachment question, as area Democrats put the pressure on him to support it, with threats of a primary and losing support.  And the ‘Van Drew Team’ of incumbent Democratic legislators in LD1 lost to Cumberland County GOP Chairman and Trump state campaign co-chair Mike Testa and his running mates, further deflating Van Drew’s Democratic brand in the area.  Then there was a reported poll that showed the incumbent fairing poorly in a Democratic primary. He switched parties in December, offering his ‘undying’ support to President Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office.  Trump at the time endorsed Van Drew for re-election, and said he would be coming into the district to lend a hand via one of his signature rallies.

At the time of Van Drew’s party switch, there were several GOP primary candidates in race.  One by one, most of them dropped out, following President Trump’s lead in endorsing Van Drew.  Over the past few days, Brian Fitzberbert dropped his bid, and urged other candidates to do the same.  Millionaire David Richter held on a few days longer, then yesterday ended his own CD2 bid, endorsed Van Drew, and set his sights on CD3’s GOP primary with the hope of facing off against Democratic Rep. Andy Kim. At the time of the rally, only Bob Patterson remains to face off against the establishment-bulked incumbent.

Democrats, meanwhile, have a rally of their own planned in opposition to the President’s visit.  CD2 Democratic primary candidate Ashley Bennett excoriated Trump ahead of the rally, saying ‘racism and homophobia are unwelcome here’, and candidate John Francis said its ‘his right’ for the President to come to the district, adding that he himself will be speaking at an Indivisible Cape May event later.  Candidate Brigid Harrison says that Trump ‘doesn’t have the guts to rally in Atlantic City‘.  Candidate Amy Kennedy rallied with MLK III in defiance of Trump and Van Drew.

A few questions heading into tonight’s rally:

  1. Governor Murphy has often blasted President Trump, his favorite foil, on both the campaign trail in 2017 and throughout his Governorship.  Will President Trump return the favor, and strike back?
  2. Will Trump specifically take aim at any of the CD2 Democratic primary candidates?
  3. Will Trump highlight any other NJGOP figures or candidates (Mike Testa, Doug Steinhardt, Joe Pennacchio, Rosemary Becchi, David Richter, Kate Gibbs, etc)?
  4. What effect will Trump’s visit have on the NJGOP heading into the 2020 election season?  Will it have a unifying effect – since the President is top of the ticket – or will it highlight ideological divides? Does the visit galvanize the NJGOP to build upon the enthusiasm garnered by Trump’s visit?
  5. Like with the NJGOP, how much does Trump’s rally have a galvanizing and unifying effect for NJ Democrats – fractured still, even as the statewide chair battle culminated at the end of the year.
  6. Anticipating a large crowd (the venue holds 7,500; thousands were lined up by this morning, with Van Drew saying there were 100,000 ticket requests), does the President’s visit cause any concern or consternation among battleground Democrats in purple districts?
  7. How hard does Trump go after congressional Democrats over the impeachment trial?
  8. Will Trump offer any commentary on the state’s political establishment or current events in the state, or will his focus remain locked on impeachment and national level politics?
  9. Will he offer any comments on Atlantic City, with whom he shares an intertwined history?

Take a look at Wildwood’s live cams here and here.  Check up on traffic conditions – and delays – via Press of AC here.  According to the Philly Inquirer, Wildwood’s new Democratic mayor says he isn’t welcome at the rally.

Watch the rally via NJTV’s live stream starting at 7pm:

Photos from Herminio Mendoza, President of the Hispanic Republicans of North Jersey

Read Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg’s treatment of the upcoming rally here.

Governor Murphy sent out the following email ahead of Trump’s rally:

‘Today, President Trump is rallying in Wildwood to support Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who promised to represent the people of the Second District of New Jersey with honesty and integrity. A year later, the Congressman has broken his promise by switching parties and scoring a political favor from the President.

Rep. Van Drew has welcomed President Trump to our state with open arms in spite of his duty to those who elected him. New Jerseyans deserve to be represented by leaders they can be proud of. Leaders who elevate their constituents’ voices — not ignore them.

As Democrats, we believe in the basic values of fairness and responsibility. We agreed to help lift working families up. And we agree to stand with middle-class families, not the wealthy or well-connected.

We’ve made significant progress toward those goals by beginning to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, increasing funding for our public schools, refusing to raise fares on NJ TRANSIT passengers, and fighting to reduce the skyrocketing cost of health care.

That’s what gives us the power to elect a Democrat in New Jersey’s Second District. Championing an agenda that is producing real results for the people of New Jersey is how we win in 2020.’

Trump and Van Drew
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