‘That was the worst set of remarks ever delivered by an American president’

Murphy joins chorus criticizing Trump’s words, pleading with president to let election process play out

File photo Gov. Phil Murphy, left, with President Donald Trump.

Gov. Phil Murphy said he was going to try to contain himself. He couldn’t.

When asked about President Donald Trump’s statement Thursday night, in which he made numerous of allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, without any evidence, Murphy all but said Trump had disgraced the office.

“That was, I think, the worst set of remarks ever delivered by an American president last night,” he said. “It’s just hard to put it any other way.”

Murphy, taking questions after the announcement of the leaders of the newly created Cannibas Regulatory Commission, said Republican leaders need to stand up for the process and against the president.

“I plead with responsible leaders across the spectrum, but especially in the Republican Party, to stand up,” he said.

That needs to come now — and when the counting is done, Murphy said.

“We need responsible leadership to stand up once the votes are counted and the decision is obvious,” he said. “If it is not his victory, and it is (Democratic former) Vice President (Joe) Biden’s victory, we need to move on and accept that decision.

“I plead with leadership of the Republican side of the aisle. I saw (Assembly Minority Leader) Jon Bramnick say some responsible words earlier today. We need more of that. I applaud him for saying that. We need more of that.”

Other notes from Friday:

School closings

Murphy would not comment specifically on the decision by the Clifton School District to shut schools through the holidays because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Murphy said the overall number of cases in schools is in line with expectations. He also said these decisions should be made at the local district level.

“We deal with these districts one district at a time,” he said. “We did that when they closed, we (did it) when they reopened two months ago. And they consult with us at every step of the way when they make decisions like that.

“So, I don’t have a specific insight into Clifton, (but) I did mention yesterday that we’ve got 30-odd instances of in-school transmission, impacting over 100 individuals. We take every one of those cases deadly seriously. But that’s well within any expectation of where we expect it to be.”

Health metrics

Murphy announced the state has 2,199 new positive COVID-19 cases, the third time since Oct. 30 the state has been over 2,000.

The overall total is now 249,380, meaning the state is all but certain to pass 250,000 cases when it reports its numbers Saturday — becoming the 11th state to do so.

Murphy said there were more than 200 cases in Essex, Bergen and Passaic counties — and more than 150 in Hudson and Middlesex counties.

The state also announced 13 new confirmed COVID-19 fatalities, bringing the overall total of lives lost to 14,616. Nearly 2,000 more are expected to have been from COVID-19.

Final word

Murphy emphasized that the COVID battle is not over.

“Let there be no doubt as a general matter, this virus has not gone away, as we predicted and whatnot. And notwithstanding great work on behalf of billions of New Jerseyans, we’re still in the fight. And we have got to fight back against COVID fatigue, which is understandable, which is real.”