Biden calls new Republican ad ‘return of Willie Horton’
EDISON » Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday weighed in on the race to succeed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, criticizing a new campaign ad from Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno as the “return of Willie Horton” and casting the election as an opportunity to rebuke President Donald Trump.
“What’s going on right now is the new ad I just saw,” Biden told a crowd in Edison while campaigning with Democrat Phil Murphy. “The return of Willie Horton,” he said, referring to an explosive 1988 anti-Michael Dukakis ad.
Horton, a convicted killer, raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough. The 1988 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.
In New Jersey, experts say it’s unclear whether Guadagno’s ad might move voters to her camp. But Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray says it could be a “red-meat” play to the Republican base outside the state, aimed at attracting outside money.
“You take an electorate like New Jersey, it’s a much bigger crime to be far right than to be far left,” Murray said of a state where Democrats have a registration edge of about 800,000.
Guadagno appeared Thursday on the Fox News show “Fox and Friends,” where she condemned policies that limit coordination between local officials and federal immigration-enforcement agents. Murphy said at a debate this week that he would make New Jersey a sanctuary state.
Democratic nominee Phil Murphy and Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno during a gubernatorial debate at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Tuesday in Newark, N.J.