U.S. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) made an exception today.
This was the first time in his 35 year Senate career that he has jumped into a Democratic primary. It wasn’t even in his home state, but here in New Jersey, on behalf of incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
“I count Rob Andrews as my friend, and I’ve never been engaged in a primary before – in my home state or anywhere else,” said Biden in a short press availability before a fundraiser in Union.
About 35 people attended the later event, paying anywhere from $500 to $2,300 for the privilege. Former Gov. Brendan Byrne showed up, as did his son, Tom Byrne, who mulled a primary challenge against Lautenberg just before Rep. Rob Andrews entered the race.
“This is an incumbent who doesn’t warrant a challenge. He has delivered more to the state of New Jersey and the state of Delaware – on Amtrak, the environment,” said Biden.
Biden, who commutes to Washington from his Delaware home on Amtrak, singled out Lautenberg’s commitment to the train system and his work on environmental issues.
“I have now made over 7,900 round trips between Wilmington, DE and Washington, DC, and I love this guy,” he said, adding that without Amtrak the New Jersey Turnpike would have to have seven extra lanes.
“As much as I love Rob Andrews, and he has been my friend, this is not even close for me,” Biden said.
As Lautenberg’s closest supporters have been doing quite a bit lately, Biden described the 84-year-old Lautenberg’s youthful vigor and athletic feats, dismissing Andrews’s recent ad that hit Lautenberg on his age.
“By the way, Frank, I saw an ad about age,” he said. “I’d ask Rob (Andrews) or anyone else, have they gone helicopter skiing with you lately? No malarkey, figure out what his diet is. Figure out what he’s drinking. Find me someone 65 years old with more energy than Frank Lautenberg, and I really genuinely mean it. It’s astounding.”
Lautenberg blew off the Rob Andrews’s endorsements by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Star-Ledger.
“They make mistakes too,” he said, before listing his myriad of endorsements from environmental, labor and liberal groups.