Murphy on strong relationship with Trump, U.S. government: ‘We need them and they need us’

Gov. Phil Murphy has not always gotten along with President Donald Trump or his administration. The two have battled over social policies — as well as the need for the Gateway Tunnel project. There have been a number of lawsuits filed.

But, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Murphy has had plenty of good things to say about the president. It’s a tack that some feel has helped New Jersey in its efforts to get federal assistance. And one some have compared to former Gov. Chris Christie’s chummy relationship with then-President Barack Obama following Superstorm Sandy — a relationship many feel hurt Christie’s standing within his own party.

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President Donald Trump has promised New Jersey four field hospitals.

Asked about his relationship with the president during his daily coronavirus briefing Monday, Murphy said he is simply playing the hand he has been dealt.

“I mean this sincerely: I don’t wake up every morning with the choice of saying, ‘Who’s going to be my president today: Do I get X or Y or Z?’” he said. “The president is Donald Trump. The vice president is Mike Pence. There’s one federal administration.”

Last week, Murphy went out of his way to praise Trump for both agreeing to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set up field hospitals and for simply returning his calls.

“I want to give a shout out where credit is due,” Murphy said. “We put in a request for a call this morning and he called me back this morning. I have to say that turnaround, when you’re talking about the president of the United States, is meaningful.”

Other Democratic governors have not fared as well.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sparred with the president and criticized the federal response. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been in a feud, as well.

Murphy said he is simply working with those in power. And he suggested the federal government also needs to work with the states during this crisis.

“We need the feds; the feds need us, as well,” he said. “If you were part of the back and forth over the course of Saturday, when there was a discussion of a travel advisory or a quarantine (for the tri-state area), I think we all realized we need each other. I was on with Gov. Cuomo, (Connecticut) Gov. (Ned) Lamont a whole lot. We were on with the president and the vice president and their teams a whole lot. We need them and they need us. And they are the administration.

“It’s the same reason I was on with (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi just before coming over here in terms of war-gaming, where do we go next in terms of the economic support. We deal with the leaders who are in their seats, not the ones who we might theoretically think about.”

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