New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday praised President Trump’s work to deliver federal support to the state during the coronavirus crisis.
On a visit to the Oval Office, Murphy generously complimented Trump, and the president reciprocated.
“I want to again thank the president for an extraordinary spirit of partnership across the whole spectrum of our needs,” Murphy said.
“I thank you for the enormous help in our darkest hour of need,” the governor said.
“Ventilators, as you can see PPE, testing sites — now I think we’re going to be in a very good place, thanks to you and your team, as it relates to expanding testing dramatically so that we’ll be able to begin to take those steps to reopen.”
New Jersey is the second worst-hit state with more than 116,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 7,000 deaths. Only New York has more cases.
The governor, referring to Trump as “Mr, President,” was effusive.
At one point during a brief pool spray with reporters, Trump was pressed on his performance by CNN host Jim Acosta. Trump turned to Murphy for a defense.
Murphy said: “In our hour of need, whether it was ventilators, the Army Corps building out capacity, FEMA with our testing sites, and a big part of our ability to reopen as fast as we all want to is to rapidly expand testing and you all literally, in the here and now this week, are helping us in a big way.”
Trump asked Murphy: “Phil, how do we do on ventilators as an example?”
Murphy replied: “We got them. I mean, there’s just no other way to put it. And I’m told that we were the number one state recipient of ventilators. You know, we were at the edge and this is life or death stuff, and we got them, and we’re forever thankful for that.”
Trump’s reelection outlook has darkened during the crisis with polls indicating he’s trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Praise from Murphy and other Democrats is likely to blunt criticism of Trump’s pandemic response.
Before the crisis, Trump aides in optimistic moments mused about winning New Jersey in November. In December during Trump’s impeachment, South Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew left the Democratic Party to become a Republican.
Trump, seated alongside Murphy, praised his own administration’s coronavirus response. “I think we’ve done a really great job,” he said.
Returning a compliment for Murphy, Trump said: “You can’t have a better representative than this man. That I can tell you”