KEARNY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden this week described a new gubernatorial ad campaign from New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadangno as “the return of Willie Horton.”

Now, political leaders in the Garden State have weighed in.

As WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported, the ad features Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy saying he would have “the back” of illegal immigrants. Critics said it goes on to imply that Murphy would have the backs of convicted killers, referring to a case in Newark where an illegal immigrant shot four teens execution-style in 2014.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was the mayor of Newark at the time.

“To exploit that for political gain is an insult to the families that suffered,” Booker said.

But outgoing Gov. Chris Christie said if Murphy wants to make New Jersey a sanctuary state, the ad is fair game.

“No one in state law enforcement will be authorized to deal with illegal immigration,” Christie said. “I think it’s an absolutely a fair comment.”

Christie further said Biden is just trying to stay relevant because he wants to run for president and has to say outrageous things.

Murphy has said he wasn’t talking about “heinous” crimes and said those responsible should be prosecuted.

Biden was referring to a 1988 ad against then-Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. The ad featured a black felon, Willie Horton, and was designed to play on voter fears of Democrats’ supposedly soft-on-crime policies – but it was widely condemned as racist.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)