PARAMUS – Representatives from the Pascrell and Rothman camps both declared victory after the debate between the two Democratic congressmen tonight in Paramus.
Rothman sang a consistent tune during the hour-long event, saying numerous times that he is the “more progressive candidate” in the campaign battle against Pascrell, repeatedly citing his record on abortion and health care.
“We set high expectations, met them, and exceeded them,” said Chris Eilert, Rothman’s Campaign Manager and Senior Strategist, who echoed Rothman’s theme of the night in a post-debate interview by adding that Rothman is “more progressive.”
Eilert said Pascrell seemed “out of touch.”
“(Rothman’s) views are more consistent with Democratic primary voters,” he said.
On the other side of the fight, Sean Darcy, Pascrell’s communications director, called the debate “a great night” for the Pascrell team, saying he’s looking forward to the next debate between the two.
“Tonight showed clearly who fights for middle class taxpayers,” Darcy said.
Rothman has said he was better with issues relating to Israel than Pascrell, something that Darcy said is different than what Rothman said in the past.
“Two years ago (Assemblyman Gary) Schaer and Rothman said in a letter to Jewish newspapers that (Pascrell) was great on Israeli issues,” Darcy said. “All of a sudden that’s changed.”
When Rothman stayed on the same message for a majority of the debate, sometimes not answering the questions the first time around, Pascrell supporters in the rather noisy crowd became audibly annoyed, groaning and sometimes even booing.
Eilert said he disapproved of the behavior of the Pascrell supporters at the debate.
But Darcy also criticized Rothman and his campaign; saying tonight continued “the negative campaign Steve Rothman has run since January.”
Rothman echoed the argument that Pascrell opposed the public option in the federal health care reform legislation passed in 2010. Pascrell eventually voted for the same federal health care bill as Rothman, but Rothman’s campaign has said Pascrell considered removing a public option before the vote was passed. The topic was reviewed by Politifact earlier this year, which found that Rothman’s claim that Pascrell opposed the option was false since they both voted for the same bill.