PARAMUS — Former President Bill Clinton has harsh words for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno — and the harsh tone of her own campaign.

Rallying support for Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in Paramus on Tuesday, Clinton said Guadagno's campaign wants the Republican base “foaming at the mouth until they need a rabies shot," reported.

It's part of a strategy to "scare the living daylights out of people and trying to get their vote based on something that is flat-out false,” Clinton said, according to the report.

Earlier this month, Guadagno's campaign unveiled a 30-second TV spot quoting Murphy saying he'd make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” if Congress did not come up with a plan for the state’s 22,000 immigrants who are here under the DACA program. His debate comment was met with both loud boos and cheers.

In the debate, Murphy said he'd look to help immigrants here illegally who hadn't committed violent crimes.

Bill Clinton Campaigns With Democratic NJ Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Murphy
Getty Images

The ad instead focuses on the case of Jose Carranza, who was convicted in 2007 in the slayings of three college-bound students in Newark. The Peruvian immigrant was in the country illegally.

“He said he would have their backs. I wonder if he would have the back of the individual who climbed through a second-flood widow just two weeks ago in a sanctuary city in New Jersey and raped a six-year-old girl. I will have their back and I will keep them safe,” the Republican said.

The Star-Ledger in an editorial accused Guadagno of splicing the video “in way that is flat-out dishonest, a cheap attempt to whip up the most ugly and unfounded fears of unauthorized immigrants, and to use that fear to slime Murphy, her Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race.”

The editorial compared the ad to the commercial run by President H.W. Bush in 1988 against Democratic challenger Mike Dukakis featuring convicted felon Willie Horton.  Horton, a convicted killer, raped a woman while out of prison on a weekend furlough. The 1988 spot was designed to play on fears that Democrats were supposedly soft on crime, but the ad featuring the black felon was widely condemned as racist. Dukakis, a Democrat, went on to lose.

Trenton, where the New Jersey incident took place in September,  also considers itself a “sanctuary city.” The term has no formal definition, but generally refers to communities that to not honor immigration detainer requests from ICE, or otherwise don't provide help to federal immigration authorities beyond formal legal requirements.

Murphy during the debate called both crimes “heinous” and said the accused should be prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law. Only a fraction of people illegally in the country commit seriously criminal offenses. 

Guadagno told New Jersey 101.5’s Bill Spadea earlier this month that Murphy called for New Jersey to become a “sanctuary state” during the primaries, but the comment went largely unnoticed.

“What you get from that Facebook Live event is his reaction,” Guadagno said. “You know in an unscripted moment what he really thinks. In an unscripted moment he really does believe that he will err on the side of caution and protect those who are in this country illegally who are committing violent crimes.”

The ad was heavily criticized by Democrats at all levels, including the candidate himself, who called the it “vile.” 

But the Guadagno campaign this week, drawing a contrast to Clinton's current support for Murphy, highlighted the former president's own history of anti-illegal immigration rhetoric.

"We will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes," the campaign quoted Clinton saying in 1995.

— With prior reporting by Dan Alexander

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