Christie urges clambake crowd to back Trump

MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was busy on Sunday, appearing on ABC’s This Week in the morning, spending time with Donald Trump in the afternoon and making an evening appearance at Cannstatter’s for the annual Billy Meehan Clambake, a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Republican Party.

Christie, wearing a Notre Dame shirt, was introduced by Joe DeFelice, the local party chairman, who pointed out that the governor is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. The crowd booed.

Before discussing the presidential race, Christie described Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as an “absolute disaster” and urged voters to “kick him out” in 2018.

Christie arrived after spending four hours with the presidential nominee at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump vowed not to take any days off from the campaign trail.

“He wanted me to tell all of you he is coming to Philadelphia and is coming soon,” Christie told the crowd. “He will not cede Philadelphia to Hillary Clinton.”

Christie said Clinton lacks the ethics and integrity to be president.

“We already had her husband. We can’t afford to have her,” he said.

Christie ran for president, dropping out after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary and endorsing Trump two weeks later.

“Donald Trump will stand up for working Americans. Donald Trump is the one who will look out for the working person,” he said.

Christie said he believes whoever captures Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes will win the presidency.

“If the Philadelphia GOP just does a little bit to cut into the margin in Philadelphia, Donald Trump will win Pennsylvania on Nov. 8,” he said. “If he wins Pennsylvania on Nov. 8, he will be the 45th president. You can take that to the bank.”

The governor said, if Republican activists work hard for Trump, “We’re going to have a lot to celebrate on Jan. 20, 2017,” the next inauguration date.

DeFelice said many city residents like Trump and Christie, “people that speak their mind, that tell the status quo to go stuff it.”

Before leaving, Christie pulled the winning 50/50 ticket.

DeFelice, noting the serious back injury to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, suggested that Christie might be looking for a new favorite team and presented him with an Eagles hat while the Blu Dogz band played Fly, Eagles, Fly.

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Before Christie spoke, candidates running for office this year took the stage.

The group included U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey; state Reps. Tom Murt, Martina White and John Taylor; congressional candidate Debbie Williams; state Senate candidate Ross Feinberg; state representative candidate Jim Pio; and statewide candidates John Rafferty (attorney general), John Brown (auditor general) and Otto Voit (treasurer).

Toomey said that if he loses, that Democrats will likely take control of the Senate, putting New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in charge.

“We are absolutely not going to let it happen,” he said.

Toomey also condemned Philadelphia’s refusal to cooperate with federal authorities when illegal immigrants are arrested for serious crimes.

“It’s madness to have sanctuary cities,” he said.

Rafferty, a state senator, faces Democrat Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County commissioner. The Republican touted endorsements from Philadelphia Firefighters and Paramedics Local 22 and the state Troopers, Fraternal Order of Police and correctional officers. He contends that Shapiro lacks experience.

Republicans had won every race for attorney general since it became an elected office in 1980 until Democrat Kathleen Kane won in 2012.

“We gave the Democrats one shot at that office, and how did that work out?” Rafferty said.

Kane was convicted earlier this month of leaking secret grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News to discredit former state prosecutor Frank Fina, her archrival.

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Among those in attendance were former Gov. Mark Schweiker; former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley; City Councilman Al Taubenberger; former Councilmen Jack Kelly and Rick Mariano; city elections Commissioner Al Schmidt; former state House Speaker John Perzel; former state Rep. and Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Wogan; FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby; and former Fire Commissioner Joe Rizzo.

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Rizzo served as fire commissioner under his older brother, the late Mayor Frank L. Rizzo.

A statue of Frank Rizzo, who was also police commissioner, stands outside the Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Blvd. Black Lives Matters wants the statue removed, and Mayor Jim Kenney has said he’ll engage in a conversation on the topic.

DeFelice, the local GOP chairman, said Kenney is bowing to the political left.

“To take down that statue is a disgrace,” he said.

Rizzo served as mayor from 1972–79, and had won the 1991 Republican primary for mayor, but died during the campaign. His widow, Carmella, last month celebrated her 100th birthday.

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DeFelice, of Mayfair, also had tough words for Katie McGinty, the Democrat challenging Sen. Toomey.

McGinty is a Rhawnhurst native who attended Resurrection of Our Lord Grammar School and St. Hubert High School. Today, she lives in Chester County.

“She wouldn’t know the difference between the Hamptons and Northeast Philadelphia,” DeFelice said. ••

MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

Republican rally: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussed the presidential race, and described Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as an “absolute disaster” during his speech at Sunday’s annual Billy Meehan Clambake. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO