He began by saying the world of politics is at a “turning point” and Murphy’s increasingly tense race against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli is a choice between moving forward or backwards.
“I’m here today because I believe, New Jersey, you will make the right choice,” Obama told a crowd of more than 700 people during an outdoor rally for Murphy, a fellow Democrat, at Weequahic Park in the state’s largest city.
"The science says it's the right thing to do," former President Obama stressed in reference to COVID-19 masks and vaccine requirements to a crowd of Murphy supporters in Newark. "You do it because you're not just protecting yourself, but people you love, people who are vulnerable. But, you know, I don't know how folks just decide everything's got to suddenly be political."
"But I understand why people want to know when this is all going to end," Obama noted.
Obama also traveled to Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday to stump for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
While speaking highly of McAuliffe, Obama claimed Virginia's election signaled a "turning point."
"We're not going to go back to the chaos that did so much damage," Obama said. "We're going to move forward with people like Terry leading the way."
The appearance came the same day early in-person voting began for the first time in New Jersey history, giving voters a chance to cast ballots for nine days leading up to Election Day Nov. 2.
Obama encouraged the audience, filled with Democratic voters and union members, not to wait.
“Go out and fight. Work,” he demanded. “Do not sit this one out.”
His visit also came as the governor’s race appears to be tightening in its final stretch. Murphy has led Ciattarelli in all public-opinion polls so far in the blue-leaning Garden State, though an Emerson College/PIX poll released Thursday found the governor leading by just 6 percentage points. A Stockton University poll released late last month found him up by 9.
Murphy — who‘s aiming to become the first Democratic New Jersey governor to be re-elected since 1977 — told the crowd “we have turned the page to a new era in New Jersey ... but our work is not done.”
“The last thing we need is extreme leadership,” the governor said. “There is a chance if you guys don’t turn out and vote, they can steal this from us.”
With the word “VOTE” sprawled in capital letters on a banner behind him, Obama told the crowd he’s known the governor for years. Murphy was a top Democratic donor and served as U.S. ambassador to Germany during Obama’s first term.