U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) today engaged in the first big conflagration of their fledgling statewide contest on the issue of healthcare.
A week after he launched his U.S. Senate bid, Kyrillos went on offense, urging the Obama Administration to reverse course on requiring Catholic hospitals to include contraception in staff insurance packages.
“This is a shocking assault on the religious freedom upon which this nation was built,” said Kyrillos, three weeks after the Obama administration issued the ruling.
The Republican challenger went straight at the incumbent.
“Bob Menendez’s silence is deafening,” Kyrillos said. “He loudly supported Obama Care and has remained silent in the face of this attack on religious liberty. The Obama/Menendez mandate is an affront not just to one particular faith, but to all Americans who seek to practice their faiths free from government intrusion.
“President Obama has been systematically trampling upon Americans’ basic personal freedoms since his first day in office,” the Republican added. “Now he is after our religious freedom and I strongly urge him to reverse course. It is sad and unfortunate that, even as many Democrats have spoken out against this provision, Senator Menendez has stood by Obama’s side while the religious freedom of the people of New Jersey is under siege.”
In response, the Menendez campaign took the opportunity to brand the Kyrillos campaign a right wing enterprise.
“Well, that didn’t take long,” said campaign spokesman Brad Lawrence. “The first position on policy that Joe Kyrillos took in this campaign was to get in line behind the most extreme Washington Republicans and attack women’s access to health care. The Republican has shown where he really stands when he supported eliminating state support for Planned Parenthood. Kyrillos is on the wrong side of women in New Jersey on health care, on choice and on contraception.”
Lawrence said Menendez believes the debate is fundamentally about equal access to healthcare for all women.
“He strongly believes that every woman has the right to be able to access affordable contraceptive services as part of her overall health care services if she chooses,” Lawrence said. “Senator Menendez also believes we can ensure that right without infringing on religious beliefs. This is a clear example of the stark choice voters will have if Joe Kyrillos is the Republican nominee.”