A new campaign video released by GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Steinhardt mauling rival Jack Ciattarelli for his opposition to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign is a clear pitch for support from Trump backers, and possibly the lame duck president himself.
The video derides Ciattarelli for his refusal to back Trump four years ago when he ran for president against Hillary Clinton, using a series of 2015 and 2016 press clippings to illustrate the then-assemblyman’s statements about the GOP presidential candidate.
“I made my position on Donald Trump clear last December,” Ciattarelli told the Star-Ledger in October 2016. “I said he was a charlatan and an embarrassment.”
Steinhardt also appears to be playing for some Republicans that still like former Gov. Chris Christie, using the video to remind GOP activists that Ciattarelli called on Christie to resign in 2016 after he campaigned for Trump shortly after ending his own presidential bid.
Ciattarelli called Christie’s Trump endorsement a “spectacle” and said watching it was “too much to bare.”
The Steinhardt video also uses a clip from a TV interview with Steve Adubato, during Ciattarelli’s bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
“Now, you did not vote for Donald Trump?” Adubato asked.
The response from Ciattarelli: “I did not vote in the presidential election.”
The Steinhardt campaign closes the video with black and white images of Ciattarelli with two prominent Republican Trump critics: U.S. Senator Mitt Romney and former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
It also closes with a message: “To beat Phil Murphy, New Jersey Republicans need: an actual Republican.”
Steinhart, who does not appear on the video, contrasts himself with Ciattarelli in a message clearly aimed at the start of the Republican screening committee and convention season.
“With me, what you see is exactly what you get, and you’ll always know where I stand because I’m proud of who I fight for: New Jersey’s families,” Steinhardt said.
But Steinhardt’s campaign manager, Theresa Winegar, threw a tougher punch.
“Trenton politician Jack Ciattarelli has been name-calling, blocking and attacking President Trump since Day One – it’s no surprise that he couldn’t even bring himself to vote for our President,” Winegar said. “Jack Ciattarelli is exactly the kind of candidate Phil Murphy wants to run against: a weak-kneed politician who is afraid to support our conservative values and stand with President Trump.”
Former Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, an advisor to the Trump campaign and a Ciattarelli supporter, pushed back on Steinhardt’s video.
“What a desperate, pathetic attempt by swamp creature Doug Steinhardt to breathe life into his dying campaign. Doug and his never-Trump partners like Jim Florio make a living doing deals with Democrats on the backs of taxpayers,” Rogers said. “I know Jack Ciattarelli, and I know he voted for and supported the president in 2020. His comments from four years ago are irrelevant to this campaign. That’s why me and countless other Trump supporters in NJ back Jack.”
This story was updated at 11:22 AM with comment from Rogers.