Obama mocked GOP New Jersey gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli for attending a 'Stop the Steal' rally

Obama mocked GOP New Jersey gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli for attending a 'Stop the Steal' rally
Former President Barack Obama and Gov. Phil Murphy, right, host an early vote rally at Weequahic Park in Newark, N.J., on October 23, 2021. AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah
  • Former President Obama mocked the New Jersey GOP gubernatorial nominee for attending a 'Stop the Steal' rally.
  • Obama poked at Jack Ciattarelli, who said he unknowingly attended a pro-Trump rally last November.

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday poked at New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli for attending a rally to overturn the 2020 presidential election results last year and said that the former state lawmaker won't be "a champion of democracy."

Obama mocked Ciattarelli in Newark as he stumped for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who is running for reelection to a second term in the Garden State. It was the former president's second campaign appearance of the day after his visit to Virginia to campaign for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who's seeking a second nonconsecutive term in office.

The former president made light of Ciattarelli's acknowledgment during a recent gubernatorial debate that he went to a November 2020 pro-Trump rally in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is also the home of the ex-Republican president's golf club.

"Apparently Phil's opponent says he didn't know it was a rally to overturn the results of the last election," Obama said at the weekend rally. "He didn't know it? Come on!"

"When you're standing in front of a sign that says 'Stop the Steal' and there's a guy in the crowd waving a Confederate flag, you know this isn't a neighborhood barbecue. You know it's not a League of Women Voters rally. Come on! Come on, man! That's not what New Jersey needs," he added.


During the debate, Ciattarelli contended that he attended the rally thinking it was focused on 2021, adding that he didn't observe any offensive signs while he was present at the event. He also stated that President Joe Biden is the duly elected commander in chief and distanced himself from former President Donald Trump's rhetoric challenging the 2020 election.

Obama used the event Saturday to boost Murphy and push back at GOP voting challenges, emphasizing the importance of getting out the vote next month, especially in an off-year election when turnout is often less robust than in midterm and presidential elections.

"Democracy is not supposed to work where if you lose, you just ignore it and pretend it didn't happen, and our democracy is what makes America great," Obama said during his speech.

Obama told the crowd to exercise their right to vote after mentioning the election reform bills that have been continuously blocked by Senate Republicans this year.

"Don't boo! Vote! Booing doesn't do anything ... Go out there and vote!" he said.


The former president asked the crowd to repudiate "politics of meanness."

"That's the path to ruin," he said. "The good news is, there's another path."

Murphy, highlighting the Democratic-leaning nature of the state, told the crowd that if like-minded supporters cast ballots, it will be a good election night.

"Our team shows up, we win," the governor said.