Steve Lonegan is no Tea Party extremist.
That’s the message the Republican U.S. Senate hopeful said to Newark Mayor Cory Booker on the stage of Wednesday’s Senate debate, telling the Democratic hopeful every time Booker blasts him as having “extreme Tea Party” views that supporters would donate to Lonegan’s campaign.
It was Lonegan signaling early in the debate that he expected to hear Booker say the words “tea” and “party” frequently during the evening.
And Booker didn’t shy away. He doubled down.
“That is absolutely unacceptable,” said Booker, referring to Lonegan’s statements opposing federal disaster aid following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
“That’s exactly what the Tea Party has been doing,” Booker continued, recognizing he dropped the “T” word.
“If this is a drinking game, I’m sure people are drinking at home,” he said to laughs from the crowd at Rowan University.
Booker then rattled off the names of Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a pair of Tea Party favorites who traveled to New Jersey to stump for Lonegan.
“This is the Tea Party he would join down in Washington,” Booker said.