TRENTON — Phil Murphy, the Democrat who hopes to be elected governor, clearly has an opinion of President Trump that's the polar opposite Chris Christie's.

He criticized Trump's responses to this weekend's violent demonstrations in Charlottesville after a candidates event in Mount Laurel Tuesday — comparing Trump's popularity to the slow growth of Nazism in Germany, according to NorthJersey.com. It's at least the third time Murphy has invoked a reference to Nazi Germany in his description of Trump's rise.

“It was economic, societal chaos and it grew over time and people didn’t see it coming, and then when they finally figured it out they couldn’t catch the train. We should all be very concerned about that in our leadership right now," Murphy, the former ambassador to Germany during the Obama administration, told reporters after the event, according to the report.

The comment was similar to one he made last November during a town hall in Montclair, though he didn't mention Trump, Hitler, or the Nazis directly in that incident.

In February the Republican Governor's Association released video of Murphy's Montclair comments: “I have lived in Germany twice – once as a private citizen and once as the United States ambassador, and I’m a modest student of Germany history. And I know what was being said about somebody else in the 1920s. And you could unfortunately drop in names from today into those observations from the 1920’s, and the moves that have been made early on only aide and abet that argument."

Murphy's Tuesday comments came before Trump's own comments that day, echoing his Saturday remarks blaming "many sides" for the violence that killed one and injured dozens.

Murphy was critical of Trump in his initial tweet on Saturday, saying the protestors were emboldened by a "wink and nod by the President and those around him."

 

Former Republican Governor Christie Todd Whitman compared Trump to Hiter in a 2015 Politico op-ed piece  in 2015.

"It is no longer a stretch to compare Donald Trump, and some of the other current Republican candidates for president, to some of the worst dictators in history. Trump especially is employing the kind of hateful rhetoric and exploiting the insecurities of this nation, in much the same way that allowed Hitler and Mussolini to rise to power in the lead-up to World War II," Whitman wrote.

Gannett New Jersey’s editorial pages have also compared Trump to Hitler, as has Ohio Gov. Jon Kasich.

Sergio Bichao contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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