NEWARK — While campaigning for Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday, former President Barack Obama briefly roasted Republican gubernatorial challenger Jack Ciattarelli for saying that his attendance at a "Stop the Steal" rally last year was unintended.

"When you've got a candidate who spoke at a 'Stop the Steal' rally, you can bet he's not going to be a champion of democracy," Obama said at the Newark campaign stop for the Democratic governor's reelection.

"Apparently Phil's opponent says, well, he didn't know it was a rally to overturn the results of the last election — brother, come on," Obama continued.

"When you are standing in front of a sign that says 'Stop the Steal', and there's a guy in the crowd waving a Confederate flag, you know this isn't a neighborhood barbecue — you know it's not a League of Women Voter's rally. Come on. Come on, man — that's not what New Jersey needs."

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Obama's remarks wrapped as the opening riff of Bruce Springsteen's song, "Born to Run" was played to the crowd of supporters in Newark, as covered by NJ Spotlight on Saturday.

On Sept. 28, during one of the gubernatorial debates between Murphy and Ciattarelli, the Republican was asked about his attendance at the Nov. 28, 2020 political event in Bedminster.

Ciattarelli said he has repeatedly said that President Joe Biden is the legitimate president after winning the 2020 election and that he does think that remarks from former President Donald Trump are what led to the insurrection riot, "I believe it was on January 6."

Earlier Saturday, Murphy, first lady Tammy Murphy and their four children all cast their ballots in Long Branch, using the early voting option that is available for the first time in-state.

Ciattarelli made several campaign stops around the state as well, including in Toms River, Brick, Colts Neck Old Bridge and Monroe, according to his campaign schedule.

The events were ramping up as a new Emerson College/PIX 11 poll of likely voters showed Murphy with a six-point lead over Ciattarelli, 50% to 44%, according to a written release.

Within the same survey, a majority of likely voters (56%) agree with Murphy’s vaccine/COVID testing mandates for public school staff, child care staff and healthcare workers, while 38% disagree. Just 6% were unsure or had no opinion.

"I don’t think government has a right to tell anybody they have to take a vaccine," Ciattarelli said during a campaign stop in Newark on Friday, as reported by TapInto Newark.

Ciattarelli previously has proposed creating a new “philosophical exemption” for school vaccine mandates, as well as a new office within the Department of Health to deal with “parental rights,” as reported by Politico and in July.

Under the state's new early voting law, each county is required to offer nine days of in-person voting before Election Day in November, ending on the Sunday before the general election.

Machines used for early voting are digital.

Early voting locations in each NJ county

Each county in the state will have between three and 10 early voting locations, open daily for the 2021 general election from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31. The sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except for Sundays, when they will close at 6 p.m.

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