Congressman Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, was one of the first to endorse Donald Trump’s third run for the White House but most New Jersey Republicans are not as enthusiastic.

“America’s comeback starts right now,” Trump told cheering supporters at his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida Tuesday night. "In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States." He also filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.

The former Democrat who turned Republican at the behest of Trump in 2019, told New Jersey 101.5 that he has developed a friendship with Trump and has talked to him several times about 2024.

"I encouraged him to run. I speak to him on a semi-regular basis. I had a sense he was going to run quite a while ago, to be honest with you. I'd asked him if he was going to run many months ago and he said, 'I'm going to make a decision I think that's going to make you happy," Van Drew said.

Make America great again ... again

President Donald Trump meets with Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the Oval Office 12/19/19
President Donald Trump meets with Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the Oval Office 12/19/19 (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Van Drew believes that Trump is the best president to deal with what he calls one of the country's most challenging time since the Civil War.

"Just think of where we were two years ago and where we are now. Think about the supply chain two years ago. Think about crime two years ago. Think about our military two years ago. Think about inflation two years ago. Think about our energy portfolio two years ago. Think about what happened in Afghanistan. There are so many things that have gone wrong with this president in this majority that we really need to make serious change," Van Drew said.

Van Drew acknowledges that Trump is a polarizing figure.

"I know he rubs some people the wrong way. And he's a little rough around the edges sometimes. But you know what he's thinking. He's telling you the truth. You know what he believes. And some people just really don't like him because of his personality," Van Drew said. "I'd rather have a really good president and a really strong America and a really safe America."

Getting other Republicans on board the 2024 'Trump Train'

Donald Trump stands on stage with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Lawrenceville National Guard Armory
Donald Trump stands on stage with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Lawrenceville National Guard Armory (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

No other Democrats, including President Biden, or Republicans have announced candidacies yet. If Trump were to be the Republican front runner in 2024 how would he get people like former confidant Chris Christie on board?

"I know there are those who worry that because he is so outspoken we may not do as well as we should. If he keeps staying on track, like he was (Tuesday) night...I challenge anybody to watch that speech last night and tell me that he was off base or the things he said wasn't right? He was right on target right down the line," Van Drew said.

Christie, whose name is on a long list of potential GOP candidates, told the Republican Governor’s Association conference in Orlando that voters “rejected crazy” in voting down Trump supported candidates on Election Day, several conference attendees told Axios.

He cited Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano as a “lost cause” and encouraged the RGA to get involved in future primaries to prevent extreme candidates from being nominated.

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a co-chairman of Trump's 2020 presidential campaign in New Jersey, told Politico his immediate political focus is on the 2023 state legislative election.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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