At the debate at NJN this passed Friday night, Andrews tried to make the case that he, and not Lautenberg, should be the standard bearer for the Democrats this fall. So, Congressman Rob Andrews does have greater rhetorical skills than Senator Lautenberg. Just not enough to shake loose the Senator.
While he made the case that he is a better speaker, Andrews’ powers of persuasion still have not convinced me that age alone should be the criteria by which Democrats should judge Lautenberg unworthy of their support. We all should be as energetic and intelligent at 84 as Lautenberg is now.
Andrews picked, poked, prodded, and punched Lautenberg over and over again, but like a well-worn world champion who still has the experience of a thousand battles, Lautenberg kept his cool and showed a thick skin. He remained serious, sage and unshaken.
I arrived at NJN about 7pm, and there were dozens of Lautenberg supporters out front holding blue placards bearing the Lautenberg name, chanting, and “Bank on Frank!” over and over again. An apt, if not entirely clever, slogan.
We can bank on Frank, and, of course, bank on Frank’s bank account as well. He donates much to his own campaign. As Andrews pointed out during the debate, he and his wife Camille could not write their own campaign a two million dollar check because it would bounce.
Like that concern has ever stopped politicians from writing checks before.
In the audience was a Who’s Who of NJ Democratic politics: Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; his brother and Andrews campaign manager Michael Murphy; Assemblyman Reed Gusciora; Congressman Frank Pallone; and Governor Jon Corzine himself. Where else should NJ’s in-crowd be on a Friday night in Trenton?
Even conservative columnist Paul Mulshine was there to cover the festivities. Mr. Mulshine and I have a mutual dislike for the exorbitant fees charged by Wachovia Bank for overdraft protection. Ironically conservative Mulshine thinks there should be a federal law addressing the issue. Imagine that?
Anyway, there was a lot of' 'he said/he said’: [“You supported the war.” “No, you supported the war”: “You voted with President Bush”. “No, you voted with President Bush”. “You’re running from your record.” “No, you have no platform”].
The poor mayor of Morristown was the only one saying, “But, what about me?”
One final note: The press release sent out by the Andrews campaign which contained Lautenberg’s statements from the debate included the “umms” and “uhhs” that occasioned the Senator’s answers: This was rude, crude and entirely unnecessary. -----As unnecessary as if Lautenberg’s campaign pointed out Andrews’ ‘well-practiced’ standard political-debate ‘hand gestures’ and/or his occasional casual head movements, all in a press release of their own. It was a low point for the Andrews campaign. Andrews is much better than that.
When it all shakes out, both Andrews and Lautenberg have good records as Democrats in Congress and in the Senate respectively. While I do give a tip of the hat to Andrews, I must give the nod to Senator Lautenberg.
However, I will work as hard for either candidate, which ever one wins. The mere thought of a Senator Sabrin, Senator Zimmer or Senator Pennacchio is just too much to wrap my brain around.