Republicans see Lautenberg as vulnerable

Although voters still favor U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg against an unnamed Republican , his potential Republican opponents see his right-side-up 39-31% approval rating as a sign of weakness.

“That’s within striking distance,” said State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, one of three Republicans vying for the seat. “He’s still under 51% – for an incumbent in there 21 years, those aren’t stellar numbers for an incumbent.”

Pennacchio’s Republican primary opponent Anne Evans Estabrook echoed the theme.

“It is clear people think Senator Lautenberg had his chance and it is now time for someone outside of politics to bring a businesslike approach to our national economy and the affordability crisis facing out state.”

Neither Estabrook or Pennacchio referred to Lautenberg’s age, even though 60% of the poll’s respondents said that the 84-year-old Senator was “too old to effectively serve another six-year term in the U.S. Senate.”

Repulbican primary candidate Murray Sabrin said that age wasn't the problem.

“I agree with a majority of New Jersey voters that Frank Lautenberg needs to retire," he said in a press release. "However, it is not because of Frank’s age, but rather the age of his failed liberal philosophy. Anne Estabrook has shown herself to be a younger version of Frank Lautenberg."

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman John Randall said that he wans’t making it an issue – the voters were.

They keep saying that it is a concern,” he said. “Democrats are making a huge issue about Sen. McCain’s age for the presidency and he’s 13 years younger Sen. Lautenberg.”

But Lautenberg spokesman Brendan Gill said that the Senator’s positive approval rating speaks volumes.

Senator Lautenberg consistently earns positive approval ratings and is leading the race because people in New Jersey know he stands strong, he's effective and he makes a real difference in their lives,” he said.

Republicans see Lautenberg as vulnerable