LAWRENCEVILLE – Days after a white supremacist got in his car and mowed down a woman on the streets of Charlottesville, three members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation sat sedately together in front of a modest-sized Tuesday-in-August crowd inside the National Guard Armory and tried to make sense of a national nightmare.
“We all despise the racism, the hatred, the violence that is going on down there,” said U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3), who rejoiced in the bipartisan nature of the town hall event and noted his comfort in being bookended by a pair of Democrats: U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).
“We would do well to have more of these,” said MacArthur, who ran for office on a promise to undo what Pallone helped craft, namely the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and helped summon support in the U.S. House of Representatives toward that end. Now in his second term, he generates a future statewide vibe as a consequence of his money and early willingness to have open dialogue with Democrats, as he did today and as he did when he held a town hall in Willingboro.
He and Pallone scrapped on guns.
“I’m not on his side with this one, I would not support his legislation,” said he Democratic congressman from Long Branch, referring to MacArthur’s would require states to recognize concealed carry permits issued beyond their borders, the same way they now recognize out-of-state drivers’ licenses. Watson Coleman likewise expressed her opposition to MacArthur’s legislation, as the GOP congressman cracked that he knew she would.
Then, during a discussion about infrastructure as he made the point that the economy is growing, while MacArthur disagreed, arguing that we are nearing a tipping point with the national debt, Pallone drove a sharp elbow in on President Donald J. Trump, doubling back on the overriding crisis of the day.
“Instead of talking about the infrastructure bill he ended up talking about Charlottesville in a way that I think was very wrong,” Pallone said, referring to Trump’s attempt this afternoon to walk back his walk back.
Once at the edge of going after a U.S. Senate seat during the Torricelli crisis, then running outright and losing a Democratic Primary for the seat in 2013, Pallone himself continues to circulate as a potential U.S. Senate candidate.
In a conversation with InsiderNJ prior to the program, Watson Coleman denounced Trump as “un-American,” and argued that citizens need to become more vigorously engaged in their government franchise to offset what she sees as Trump’s radical views. She also expressed “smh” incredulity on Facebook over the President plugging his winery in Charlottesville.
When she made her public remarks, she blamed the President for failing to lead the country.
“It is unfortunate we get mired in racism and sexism,” said the congresswoman. “If we could just get some leadership from the top, I am certain my Republican colleagues would be working along with us.”