Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen says he's voting for Trump

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen from New Jersey (Record photo-Tariq Zehawi) 
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen said Tuesday that Republican nominee Donald Trump is fit to be president, and Frelinghuysen plans to vote for him because he promised this summer to support the party’s nominee.

Herb Jackson, Washington Correspondent for The Record writes:

“While I’m offended by a lot of things he said and continues to say, I think he would be a strong leader, especially in the areas that I work in, in national defense,” Frelinghuysen told the editorial board of The Record.

The endorsement of one Republican by another would normally not raise eyebrows, but Frelinghuysen’s expression of support comes as others in his party, including Rep. Frank LoBiondo in Atlantic County, broke with the presidential nominee after the disclosure of a recording in which Trump boasted about inappropriately touching and kissing women.

Frelinghuysen, 70, is an 11-term Republican from Harding who represents the 11th Congressional District, covering parts of Passaic, Morris, Essex and Sussex counties. He is chairman of the House subcommittee that writes the Pentagon’s budget and told the editorial board that the nation’s standing around the world slipped during President Obama’s tenure because allies came to doubt whether the United States would do what it said it would.

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Like Trump, he criticized Obama’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq, saying it created the opening that allowed the Islamic State group to gain power. He agreed with Trump that the U.S. military “is in a horrible condition” because of Obama’s “ambivalent” attitude over the past eight years.

“I’ve traveled the Middle East, and the people that I talk with, in Egypt, in Jordan, they see the United States leaning back and creating a vacuum not unlike the vacuum we saw in Iraq that allowed people to lean in there, and now we have to go back and spend American lives, which we’re doing each and every day, trying to take back areas that were captured,” Frelinghuysen said.

A leading candidate to be chairman of the full House Appropriations Committee next year, he said if he gets that post, he will both support and keep in check the next president, whether it’s Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“This is nothing to do with party. This is about our nation and this is why, this damn election, we’ve got two of the most unbelievable people running here. But I want you to know I’m going to have — whoever wins — their back, and we’re going to make sure we have checks and balances,” he said.

Rival faults stance

Joseph Wenzel, a Democratic attorney from Clifton who is running against Frelinghuysen this year, said in a phone interview that the incumbent can’t have it both ways.

“Either he supports the nominee wholeheartedly, which means he buys into Trump’s racism and misogyny and sexism, or he doesn’t,” Wenzel said. He said it was “laughable” to say Trump should be president because of his position on military issues.

“This is the guy who would love to use nuclear weapons, and has zero experience on the international stage,” Wenzel said. “That disturbs me and should disturb the people of the district.”

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