Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that 84-year-old U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg did just fine in his debate this week with Republican Dick Zimmer. The George Allen/James Stockdale kind of moment Republicans were hoping for never happened; pundits from both sides say that Lautenberg won it on his own merits. Zimmer complained that this was the first Senate campaign in years that didn't include a debate on New York and Philadelphia network affiliate television (this debate was on NJ101.5 radio, and Saturday's on New Jersey Public Television) — a move that got him in a ton of trouble with NJ101.5's The Jersey Guys.
Lautenberg had some good coaching: his Senate colleague, Robert Menendez, played Zimmer in some of the debate preparation. The Zimmer campaign wouldn't say who played Lautenberg, and The Inside Edge will pass on the temptation of an online poll to see who readers thought should have played the four-term Senator — although short lists could include former U.S. Rep. Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, former State Sen. Robert Littell, and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, who played Republican Douglas Forrester during Lautenberg's 2002 debate preparation.