Ganim calls former-ally Trump ‘immoral’

This article originally appeared in The CT Post.

BRIDGEPORT — Over the years, Joe Ganim has had kind things to say about Donald Trump. He’s tried to stay on the president’s good side, even opposing a movement to designate Bridgeport a “sanctuary city” over concerns about angering Trump and losing federal aid.

But the often cool, dispassionate Ganim was moved Tuesday to issue a blistering condemnation of his erstwhile development partner.

“Donald Trump is as immoral a President as we have had,” Ganim said in an emailed statement.

It was Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their undocumented parents at the border that turned Ganim.

“It is cruel and immoral,” said Ganim, a Democrat who is running for governor. “Using innocent young children as pawns to show how tough you are on immigration (and) to force Congress to fund a border wall.”

Trump’s forced separation of children struck a personal chord, Ganim said.

A father of three, Ganim was convicted of corruption in 2003 and sent to prison for seven years. The federal sentence shattered Ganim’s young family. His children are now ages 16, 21 and 22.

“Mine was certainly a terrible separation, no question, over a long period of time,” Ganim said in a telephone interview. “But it was an orderly, civilized loving transition, with plenty of family around. Still devastating, certainly. But when you see these scenes on TV — parents being ripped apart from their children, siblings ripped apart by gender. These are the most extremely disenfranchised, voiceless persons in our country.”

Given Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, those scenes are not necessarily surprising. And yet, while Democrats were reeling and recoiling following Trump’s 2016 victory, Ganim attended the presidential inauguration and decided it was more practical not to poke at the leader of the free world.

That speaks to their shared history. During Ganim’s first dozen years as mayor, he worked with Trump, who had considered building a casino in Bridgeport. The casino never came to pass.

“I probably have more insight than ... a lot of people do — anecdotes about his personality,” Ganim told Hearst Connecticut Media in November, 2015. “Give him a chance to take a deep breath and, I hope, come out with reassurances that the extreme part of his campaign was left behind. My sense is, you’ve got a good man there.”

Ganim, whom voters returned to office in 2015, first publicly distanced himself from Trump last August after the President blamed “both sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that left one counter-protestor dead and 19 injured.

On Tuesday, Ganim reaffirmed his change of heart.

“In the early moments we were all hopeful,” Ganim said Tuesday. “And that quickly turned.”

This article originally appeared in The CT Post.