Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited the National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville Thursday to raise money for Gov. Chris Christie.
Trump announced near the beginning of his speech that the event raised enough money to cover Christie’s $250,000 debt from his White House bid. Tickets for the event started at $200.
“You know, Chris paid off his entire campaign debt tonight, right? His entire debt,” Trump said.
Trump also attended a $25,000-per-person fundraiser for the state GOP to help it pay off about $500,000 in legal fees related to legislative subpoenas in the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal.
About 1,000 people attended the Trump rally in Lawrence as protesters gathered across the street outside waving posters and chanting anti-Trump and anti-Christie slogans. Inside the armory, Trump supporters chanted “America first” and waived posters with slogans like “Make America great again” and “The silent majority stands with Trump.”
Christie, flanked by his wife and three of his children, said he and Trump had been friends for 14 years, even though they ran against each other this year. After the New Hampshire primary, Christie said he sat down with his wife to talk about whether they wanted to stay out of the presidential race from that point forward “or make a difference.”
“I said to Mary Pat, we never ever make a mistake by standing with a friend. Donald is my friend,” Christie said. “Nearly three months ago we walked into a room together and shocked the world when I announced my support. Skeptics and critics criticized my decision. Well, come and meet next president of the United States.”
Christie said people want to hurt America and “we need to defend it.” He also said the country needs an economy that is growing jobs.
“Trump has brought greatness to everything he has ever led,” Christie said. “I’m confident he will make America great again. Our people will officially put him over the top on June 7.”
Trump has appointed Christie to chair his White House transition team and people speculated that he could be Trump’s vice presidential pick.
Trump began his speech by praising Christie and reading a list of the governor’s accomplishments while in office. He claimed Christie’s Economic Opportunity Act will create 27,000 jobs, with 22,000 of those jobs in the construction industry.
He recalled a debate in which Christie put Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in his place. “He looked like Perry Mason that evening,” Trump said.
He also made a joke when he talked about boycotting Nabisco for sending jobs overseas. “I’m not eating Oreos anymore. Neither is Chris. You’re not eating Oreos, are you? It’s not good for either of us,” he said, as many at the rally laughed.
Trump attacked Hilary Clinton for refusing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorists” and said the crash of EgyptAir flight 804 in the Mediterranean Sea Thursday was caused by an explosion.
“What just happened 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky,” Trump said. “If anyone thinks it was not blown out of the sky, you are 100 percent wrong.”
The cause of the plane crash has not been confirmed yet. Egyptian and Russian officials said the plane may have been brought down by terrorists, but an investigation into the plane’s disappearance has not determined the cause of the crash yet.
Several times in his speech, Trump talked about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also referred to Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Hillary” several times, and said the next president will probably get to appoint five U.S. Supreme Court justices. “It’s a massive number of justices,” he said.
Trump said NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and promised to repeal it or renegotiate it. He said he would personally call heads of corporations if elected and tell the executives they can send their jobs to Mexico and pay a 35-percent tax to sell their goods in the U.S. He said Mexico is becoming a mini version of China.
“China will behave and be our friend under me,” he said. “They are going to respect our country…China is very concerned about me being elected, because they are going to have to pay up.”
“We are not going to be this stupid country any more,” he said. “We are like a big, sloppy bully that gets punched in the face and goes down. We are going to build a beautiful, big, powerful wall. We are going to rebuild the military. It has been decimated. We need the military more than ever. We are going to be so big and strong and powerful that nobody is going to mess with us.”
Dozens of reporters covered the rally and the protest across the street.
At one point during his speech, Trump pointed at the media, corralled as usual at his rallies. “These are the most dishonest human beings. They are the worst,” he said. The audience then booed them.
Prior to the speeches by Christie and Trump, a handful of Republicans spoke, including Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede, who said “this country is at a severe crossroads.”
“Nothing scares me more than to have Hillary Clinton serve as the president of the United States. Am I right?” Yaede said. “We need a president who will put U.S. citizens first, make sure we are safe, and make sure jobs remain in this country.”
State Senator Michael Doherty (R-Warren County) said instead of lip service about securing the border, Trump will build a wall. He said Hillary Clinton wants to “put solar panels and windmills everywhere.”
“But the wind doesn’t blow and the sun’s not shining,” Doherty said. “Grandma could be on the operating table and lights and electricity won’t work.”
State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris County) said it was a great night to be a Trump Republican in New Jersey.
“It ain’t easy being a Republican in Trenton, dealing with tax and spend Democrats,” he said. “They may have the majority, but we have something better. We have Gov. Christie, and he has the veto pen, and he has not been afraid to use it.”
He said Trump has the courage to stand up for the disenfranchised, build a wall, not give away jobs to competitors, and build a strong military. “What are his sins?”