- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s U.S. Senate candidates met for their first and only debate Friday in their race. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Jeff Bell clashed over several issues. Here are five takeaways from the debate, which will air Sunday on New York’s WABC-TV and Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV.

DISAPPEARING GOLD STANDARD?

Bell has centered his campaign on returning the U.S. to the gold standard. Booker said the policy was debunked in the 1900s and called it a vanity issue.

Replied Bell: “I have to say that vanity issue is about the stagnation in our economy.”

DIVERGING ECONOMIC APPROACHES

Bell said it’s the wrong time to raise the federal $7.25 per hour minimum wage because it could hurt young job-seekers. Booker disagreed.

Booker called for more resources to train the workforce and for a “fair economic policy,” which would result in men and women earning the same pay for equal work.

Bell cited the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates as a key driver of what he called a jobless recovery.

GAMBLING

Bell said he opposes opening a casino in northern New Jersey, while Booker said he would not support such a casino if it would hurt Atlantic City.

Bell said he doesn’t favor sports betting except in Atlantic City and perhaps a few racetracks.

Booker said he agreed with Gov. Chris Christie, who recently signed a bill into law authorizing the wagering. A federal judge Friday issued a temporary restraining order keeping sports betting from starting in the state.

OBAMA VS. THE TEA PARTY

Each candidate tried to tag his opponent to less popular political associates, with Bell mentioning President Barack Obama and Booker attacking the tea party.

Bell referenced the president’s recent efforts to enact policy by executive order and jabbed at Booker’s claims of bipartisanship.

“No one is going to come together if the president threatens unilateral action,” Bell said.

Booker suggested Bell followed the tea party’s script.

“This is the typical tea party cry. They attack Obama, attack Obama - call him King Obama,” he said.

SOCIAL ISSUES

Booker asked Bell: “Why do you believe men like you should tell women what they can do with their bodies?”

Bell said he respected that women have bodies but then pivoted attention to the subject of unborn children.

“Cory Booker was once a one-cell zygote,” Bell said.

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