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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Murphy unconcerned about political price of playing nice with Trump

Governor has eased off criticism of the president amid COVID-19 crisis

By Nikita Biryukov, March 31 2020 3:33 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he has no compunctions about working with President Donald Trump and his administration on the COVID-19 crisis.

“We will do what it takes to save as many lives as we can save in New Jersey. We will deal with everybody and anybody,” the governor said. “There’s no price to high, political or otherwise, that we will pay in order to save as many lives and keep the amount of folks who are sick in this state as low as possible.”

In recent weeks, Murphy, typically a harsh Trump critic, has reined back denunciations of the president over policy differences.

He’s also been reluctant to criticize Trump’s response to the pandemic, though he has repeatedly urged federal officials to provide additional aid to the state.

The governor said he wasn’t walking on eggshells over fears of offending to president lest he retaliate over a slight.

“It has nothing to do with what a given person wants to hear,” Murphy said.

The state is set to receive $3.4 billion in direct federal aid from a $2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed last week.

That’s well short of the $20 billion Murphy says the state will need to deal with economic fallout caused by COVID-19.

Other federal resources, provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Army Corps of Engineers or other agencies, have made their way to the state, though health officials still warn that New jersey will need additional ventilators to weather the crisis.

Murphy has repeatedly said that New Jersey’s ability to deal with the pandemic will rely heavily on how much aid the federal government provides the state, a sentiment he repeated Tuesday.

“The president of the United States is Donald Trump and the vice president is Mike Pence, and there’s one federal administration,” Murphy said. “If we’re going to get through this crisis sooner than later with a lower curve with fewer fatalities, please god, and casualties in terms of sickness … a lot of it will also relate to how much common ground we can find with the administration.”

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