With Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello complaining about two lawmakers who have had 22 (Lautenberg) and 18 (Andrews) years respectively and little to show in both cases, 101.5 moderator Eric Scott broaches the age issue.
The moderator asks U.S. Rep. RobAndrews about his campaign ad dredging up the1982 war between U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and the late U.S. Rep. Millicent Fenwick. Lautenberg questioned Fenwick’s advanced age then and now Andrews is taking the same tack and Scott wants to know if Andrews believes Lautenberg is too old to serve.
The congressman twists the issue away from age.
“He’s not effective in the Untied State Senate,” he says.
Lautenberg jumps all over him.
“He doesn’t recognize effectiveness when he see it,” he says. “He hasn’t had any in the United States Congress.”
Lautenberg proceeds to criticize Andrews for missing work to hit the campaign trail, suggesting that “maybe he’s running for the Guinness Book of Records for handshaking.”
“You’ve been there 18 years and you have nothing to show for it,” he adds. “It’s quite incredible.”
But given the chance moments later, Andrews cites 15 legislative successes he’s had in this Congress alone. He includes in his answer his successful passage of a bill protecting soldiers against terrorist attacks on military bases, and another which closes an Enron loophole.
Handling the same question, Lautenberg says he stopped the Bush administration’s elimination of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
At another point during the forum, Scott attempts to catch the debaters off guard when he rapidly couples each lawmaker up with a county on the other side of the state from where he lives and asks which is his favorite town in that specific county.
Andrews gets Sussex and he answers point blank, “Newton,” noting its “quaint” downtown.
Cresitello can’t handle Burlington.
“I don’t have a favorite place in Burlington,” he says. “My favorite place is Morristown.”
His voice muffled somewhat as Cresitello tries to expound, Andrews can’t resist giving Morristown a compliment.
“The downtown green is beautiful too,” he tells the mayor.
Then the Patersonian gets a question about Cape May.
“Cape May City is my favorite place in Cape May County,” says Lautenberg, expressing particular admiration for the beaches.
Unhappy with the line of questioning, Cresitello doubles back and names several towns south of Highway 195, tying their weakened status to the loss of manufacturing jobs in New Jersey.
“Do you want me to tell you about the factories we don’t have anymore?” Cresitello asks. “I don’t want to go on a travel mission.”
As the debate moves away from Scott’s and telephone callers’ questions and into direct candidate-to-candidate exchanges, Andrews quizzes the senator about the Lautenberg household’s $1 million worth of stock in energy companies.
“How much have you earned from profits from energy companies?” Andrews wants to know, in a seeming attempt to drain the image of Lautenberg as a people’s champion who’s fought the Bush administration at every turn.
“I have not earned $300 from gas or oil companies,” says Lautenberg, and when Andrews keeps after him and blurs the distinction between the senator individually and his household, Lautenberg says they’re his wife’s investments and they’re all public.
To the senator’s question about who was with Andrews as he examined evidence in the lead-up to the war, an apparent effort to get the congressman to say he was with Bush and Cheney, Andrews says Dick Gephardt.
Andrews belts Lautenberg with a question about why he supported the China Trade agreement
Specifically, “How many jobs were created and where are they?” Andrews asks. “Where are the jobs?”
“We wanted China to be part of the international treaty that created conduct for trade,” the senator answers.
Regarding the number of jobs created in New Jersey, “We don’t have a precise number,” he adds.