KEARNY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his lieutenant governor on Friday over a campaign ad that was blasted by former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden as "the return of Willie Horton."
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno's ad against Democrat Phil Murphy in the New Jersey governor's race shows Murphy saying he would have "the back" of those living in the country illegally.
Christie said Friday he thinks Murphy's comments about making New Jersey a "sanctuary" state are fair game. He said that Biden is just trying to "say outrageous things" to stay relevant because he wants to run for president.
Biden's comment was referring to a 1988 anti-Michael Dukakis ad condemned as racist.
"I don't take any interest in what the vice president or anyone else has to say in that regard," Christie, a Republican, said. "This was Ambassador Murphy who brought up this issue, not the lieutenant governor. He created this issue by grandstanding with his clichés. Now he has to pay for it by answering these questions."
The ad also says Murphy, who served as an ambassador to Germany in the Obama administration, would have the backs of convicted killers. Murphy has said he wasn't talking about "heinous" crimes and said those responsible should be prosecuted.
Horton, a convicted killer in the 1988 ad, raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough. The spot was designed to play on fears that Democrats were supposedly soft on crime, but the ad featuring the black felon was widely condemned as racist. Dukakis, a Democrat, went on to lose to Republican George H.W. Bush.
Guadagno's ad is not the first in the nation's two gubernatorial races to focus on concerns over illegal immigration and invite comparisons to the Horton spot.
In Virginia, Republican candidate Ed Gillespie aired advertising that included references to the MS-13 gang and suggested his Democratic rival wanted criminals on the streets.
For more on the New Jersey governor's race, go to https://apnews.com/tag/NewJerseyGovernor'sRace