"Ratcheting up the rhetoric in what's becoming a nasty race," Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) "sharply criticized" Rep. Rob Andrews (D) "for his stance on the Iraq war." Lautenberg, 84, "also downplayed questions about his age," saying "his effectiveness now and in the future" is what matters. For the first time since Andrews joined the race in early 4/08, Lautenberg "discussed in depth" their differences. Specifically, he "criticized Andrews for saying recently he wouldn't have supported the war if he'd known that a terrible 'loss of life and limb' would result." Lautenberg: "What is he talking about? You mean someone who's a ... congressman doesn't know that war brings death and destruction? Is it naivete? Is it stupidity? Ignorance? I don't understand. How could anyone make that kind of statement and expect it to have veracity?" Andrews "fired back" 4/24, saying that NJ voters "want to know what a candidate would do to end the war, not who said what and when." Andrews: "It's sad that after almost three decades in Washington the only thing someone can do is attack the person he's running against. The voters in this state are exhausted with the status quo: old, stale politics." But Lautenberg "has his own Iraq issue to contend with. Before he returned to the Senate" in 1/03, and for a couple of months afterward, Lautenberg "publicly supported the war -- a point Andrews has raised repeatedly on the campaign trail." Lautenberg "said his early support was based on information 'being fed to the public' before the war. However, soon after starting his term, he said he began receiving security briefings that convinced him quickly that the war was a mistake" (Chebium, Gannett Newspapers, 4/25).
Age? What Age? I Didn't Know About Any Age. Did I Mention His Age?"Age is by all accounts a major issue" in the NJ SEN Dem primary, and Andrews "needs to find a way to remind voters" that Lautenberg "is 84-years-old without saying it outright," writes PolitickerNJ.com's Friedman. "Since long before Andrews rose up to challenge Lautenberg, the senator's advanced age has been one of his biggest weaknesses. Poll after poll has shown voters having serious reservations about reelecting a Senator who will be 90 by the time his term is up." Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray: "When you boil it down, this is one of the few areas where there's some possibility of finding a chink in Lautenberg's armor among Democratic primary voters." Andrews "seems keenly aware of that. But he also knows that he has to approach the issue with caution, even though Lautenberg did bring up the age issue during his first run for office" against then 72-year-old Rep. Milicent Fenwick in '82. Andrews said voters "will decide whether Lautenberg is too old to effectively serve out another term. But he said he's heard the issue raised many times by voters during campaign stops." Andrews: "I will tell you that many people that I meet bring the issue up, and I think if the Senator was actually out with people he will hear it as well" (4/24).
This article appears in the April 25, 2008, edition of Latest Edition.