New Jersey Democratic Rep. Robert Andrews took a shot today at primary opponent Sen. Frank Lautenberg over the Iraq war, telling reporters that he assumes Lautenberg holds the same pro-war position as Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut because Lautenberg “enthusiastically supported” Lieberman in his 2006 race. Lautenberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Roginsky countered that that is “absolutely not the case” and that Lautenberg endorsed Democratic nominee Ned Lamont over Lieberman. Roginsky produced an Associated Press article after the Aug. 8 Connecticut primary that year that included Lautenberg in a list of senators who “abandoned Lieberman after the primary” for Lamont. But Andrews spokesman Bill Caruso returned with a press report before the primary that quoted Lautenberg as saying: “We need him and you need him, my friends.... Don’t fail yourself. Don’t fail your country. Vote for Joe Lieberman.” Andrews said, “The senator has confused his record on this issue,” and added that one of the big differences between the two was that he had laid out a plan to get U.S. troops out of Iraq and Lautenberg had not. But Roginsky countered that Lautenberg has supported an amendment from Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., to end U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Andrews also said he has come up with specific ideas about how to address healthcare coverage while Lautenberg has not and that he has opposed several trade agreements that would harm middle-class families in New Jersey while Lautenberg supported them. Andrews also challenged Lautenberg to debate him at least seven times in the seven weeks leading up to the June 3 primary. He listed nine offers of new organizations to sponsor those debates, including the Associated Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer in conjunction with the city’s NBC affiliate and Telemundo. He said debates would show voters which candidate has the energy and commitment to put forth ideas necessary and be a problem-solver, which raises the age issue against Lautenberg, who turned 84 this year. “Voters around the state have embraced this idea,” Andrews said of debates. “It’s the right thing to do.” Roginsky said Lautenberg will debate Andrews, but the campaign is “not going to debate debates.”
This article appears in the April 19, 2008, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.