Joe Pennacchio was still buoyant about the president’s Wildwood rally when we met for dinner last winter.
So much so that the state senator from Montville (Dist. 26) and co-chair of Donald Trump’s New Jersey reelection campaign talked about bringing the president to MetLife Stadium for a rally in front of 70,000 people. In fact, Pennacchio says he actually brought the matter up with Trump when they encountered each other at the January rally.
A MetLife visit, of course, never happened – and with New Jersey not a battleground state – it’s not going to.
But the man who called himself “Jersey Joe” in a campaign jingle years ago is not giving up.
He said during another dinner meeting Tuesday night that he still thinks the president would do well to spend some campaign time in the Garden State.
“He’s here all the time anyway,” Pennacchio said, referring to the president’s periodic visits to his golf club in Bedminster.
In Pennachio’s view, Trump campaigning in New Jersey, or if you will, the New York metropolitan area, would do two things.
One is purely theatrical.
It would be “a poke in the eye” to Democratic leaders like Phil Murphy, Andrew Cuomo and Bill De Blasio, Pennacchio said.
More than that, Pennacchio has party building in mind.
Noting that there are a number of congressional districts in play this year, Pennacchio suggested that the president take a break from Bedminster and travel around to help GOP candidates.
“This is his home base,” Pennacchio said. “Spend an hour here and an hour there – build the party.”
One problem with this idea is that Trump is not your typical politician. That’s an endearing trait to his supporters, but anyone who has watched him in action over the last three-plus years knows he’s not the type to barnstorm the countryside for congressional candidates.
Pennacchio, not surprisingly, remains confident Trump will win reelection, noting that as an “incumbent president,” he should have an easier time than he did four years ago.
That seems like a dubious point, but the senator takes solace from the fact most polls showed Trump losing four years ago – and look what happened?
And he also brought up one poll (Rasmussen) that has Trump’s approval rating at 52 percent. It must be pointed out, however, that the Real Clear Politics polling average has the president at 45 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.
Then again, Pennacchio says he doesn’t really believe the polls.