By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
The last U.S. Senate debate was a slugfest, it was colorful and a lot of it was about Newark.
“The most common bird that you see in Newark right now is the crane, because there are so many cranes putting up steel with all the new buildings,” Cory Booker said.
“The only birds in Newark are the vultures, the political hacks that are picking away at the carcasses of the taxpayers of that city,” said Steve Lonegan.
Booker framed the election his way.
“This is a chance for New Jersey to send a message. The first election during this shutdown, we can send a message directly to Washington. Do we want to send more Tea Party people down there?” asked Booker.
“Mayor, I know your consultants, your strategists and your acting coach would tell you to use ‘Tea Party’ as much as possible, so I have thousands of people across the United States of America who are gonna donate $10 to this campaign every time you say Tea Party,” said Lonegan.
Lonegan called Obamacare a threat to the nation, called the president a danger overseas and offered his own frame.
“I don’t know if my opponent is running against me or running against Barack Obama,” Booker said. Lonegan responded, “Both, because you’re one and the same.”
After Booker touted all the development going on in Newark, Lonegan complained it comes from tax incentives awarded to Booker’s corporate friends.
“Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, of our tax dollars poured into corporate subsidies for the folks that he gets to meet when he’s out partying in Hollywood and San Francisco,” Lonegan said.
“He talks about Hollywood folks. Look who he has. He has three Tea Party people coming in, Sarah Palin endorsing him, Rand Paul endorsing him and who’s that third person? Oh yeah, Rick Perry endorsing him,” said Booker.
On issue after issue, they clashed.
On same-sex marriage, Lonegan said, “Marriage between a man and a woman is the greatest institution ever devised by the minds of man to raise a child, and that’s what this is about.”
Booker said, “This is the problem. He says he supports liberty, but you can’t be free to marry who you want. He says he supports liberty but he wants politicians getting between a woman and her doctor about making their own health care decisions.”
On environmental regulation, Booker said, “I have a Passaic River running through my city and multiple towns in New Jersey seeing the kind of pollution and contaminants that won’t even allow people to go in there and swim and ruin industries like clamming and others. Trust me, we need to make sure there’s protections.”
Lonegan said, “You may not be able to swim in that river but it’s probably because of all the bodies floating around from shooting victims in your city.”
Afterward, Lonegan was modest.
“I never feel I do good enough. But I understand it went pretty well, from the other side of the podium,” he said.
Then he changed his tune.
“I just clobbered him in this debate,” Lonegan said.
“I was very happy with how Lonegan represented himself because tonight he told his truth for everybody to see,” he said.
They didn’t call each other radical tonight, as they have before. But perhaps more than ever, Booker and Lonegan demonstrated how radically different they are. The election is in six days.