While polls have shown Mitt Romney was victorious in last night’s debate with President Barack Obama, many Democrats have been quick to rush to the president’s defense. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that while Romney may have seen a jump, he didn’t explain how he would accomplish his goals adequately. Therefore Lautenberg doesn’t believe the debate will be influential in the election or hurt Obama’s chances at victory. The senator also discussed his relationship with Gov. Chris Christie and the chances he’ll run for reelection.
Some have said Obama’s lackluster performance in the first presidential debate may make margins small enough in certain states that Democrats below him could be affected. Lautenberg isn’t sure that’s accurate. “I think it’s too early to tell,” he said. “I think what has to happen is we have to see round number two before we come to conclusions like that.”
Christie had predicted a big night for Romney and reminded radio and television audiences of his words this morning. Lautenberg said Christie has the chance to be right occasionally. Christie and Lautenberg disagree often. Lautenberg recently blamed Christie for costing New Jersey 1 percent in its unemployment rate by reducing the number of public employees.
Lautenberg also criticized Christie for not taking advantage of available federal funds. “I worked very hard to get $6 billion committed to build the tunnel and everything was in place. New Jersey was to contribute $2.7 billion for the whole project. And suddenly he called it off,” he said. “Well we spent about $600 million in preparation already.”
While Lautenberg believes there will be another project to add additional rail service for New Jersey customers, he said it will be more limited than he would have liked.
Lautenberg said his relationship with Christie is different than any other governor in the past. “I offered him my phone number at a meeting we had in Washington in case he had forgotten it because he never calls me,” Lautenberg said. In contrast, he explained he had an understanding and conversations with other Republican governors, including Tom Kean, Christine Whitman and Donald DiFrancesco.
Lautenberg said he’s worried about working people. He explained that he grew up poor in Paterson, the son of a man who worked in the mills. He said new immigrants are trying to do what immigrants 50 or 60 years ago did by getting a foothold.
When asked if he would run for reelection, Lautenberg said, “If the job’s not finished, I sure am and I’ve got a couple of really big projects underway.”
Lautenberg said he likes getting jobs done and isn’t optimistic that they will be complete by the end of his term.