Senate Candidates Make Final Push Two Days Before Election Day

October 14, 2013 | Elections, Politics
With the latest Monmouth University poll showing Cory Booker ahead of Steve Lonegan by 10 points, both candidates were out garnering support before Wednesday's special election.

By David Cruz
NJ Today

If Cory Booker was worried about his shrinking lead, he wasn’t showing it today as his campaign bus tour rolled into Trenton. A campaign that has sometimes struggled for a rationale that resonates, today found something in remarks made by Lonegan’s strategist Rick Shaftan who questioned Booker’s sexuality and more.

“Then you have Shaftan’s remarks which are consistent with that kind of disregard and disrespect for who? Disrespect for women, disrespecting gays and lesbians in our state, disrespecting the urban spaces in our state,” he said during a stop in Trenton. “Very clearly, New Jerseyans have to decide, do they want a senator in Washington who’s going to have things like that coming out of their mouth?”

Lonegan brushed aside the Shaftan controversy at an appearance in Toms River this morning.

“I raised two daughters; I don’t speak that way and again, he was terminated immediately,” Lonegan told reporters, adding that Shaftan had already apologized and didn’t need to apologize to Booker directly. “I think he apologized to everyone.”

This weekend, Lonegan brought in Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin, energizing his base, if not necessarily Independents, but a sign — he says — of the momentum he has going.

“Steve won’t forget where he came from,” Palin told a crowd in New Egypt on Saturday. “He won’t forget what he accomplished, again, by the sweat of his brow, so he will not ever forget what America can accomplish.”

For his part, Booker trotted out his biggest gun yet, albeit in video form only — the president reinforcing the Booker theme of working together.

“Cory Booker has spent his entire life bringing people with different perspectives together, regardless of party, to take on tough challenges,” said President Obama in a video released by the campaign today. “Take it from me, now more than ever that’s the kind of leader we need in the Senate.”

Lonegan was back in Newark this afternoon, chiding the mayor on his record there and suggesting he didn’t even live in the city. His day was expected to end in Atlantic Highlands. Booker’s bus was expected to hit Atlantic City before ending in in Willingboro, his heart still heavy, he says, from his father’s death last Thursday.

“I’m a guy that hopes to get married and have kids some day and, you know, not having your dad around for those things, so this is a tough transition for me,” Booker said. “I’m happy that more and more of my family are coming out and we’re all together through this, but my dad would want me to be on this trail.”

The Booker camp says the Monmouth University poll should be taken with a grain of salt. They say Independents were over sampled and that they tend to vote less in elections like this one, and under sampled Democrats, who tend to vote more. But squabbling over a few percentage points in an opinion poll is not where most observers thought the Booker campaign would be two days before election day.