- The Washington Times - Monday, October 28, 2002

The latest independent poll shows Democrat Frank Lautenberg opening up a sizable lead over his Republican opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, prominent Republicans are rallying support for their candidate, Republican businessman Doug Forrester. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the popular former mayor of New York, campaigned with Mr. Forrester on Thursday. The Forrester campaign also started running a television ad this week in which Mr. Giuliani voices strong support for Mr. Forrester. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, was in New Jersey stumping for Mr. Forrester on Friday.
A Quinnipiac University poll, conducted Oct. 16-20, found Mr. Lautenberg leading Mr. Forrester, 52 percent to 43 percent.
"Senator Lautenberg has strengthened his lead, but Doug Forrester is still in there fighting," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Forrester finally has overcome his name recognition problem and, in the process, New Jersey voters have gotten a more favorable impression of him. The question is whether it is too little, too late for the GOP candidate."
The two candidates are scheduled to have their first formal televised debate Wednesday.
Mr. Lautenberg, a 78-year-old former senator, entered the race early this month after embattled Democratic Sen. Robert G. Torricelli dropped out and the New Jersey Supreme Court approved a last-minute ballot switch.
Mr. Forrester and Republicans have been criticizing Mr. Lautenberg for avoiding a debate with Mr. Forrester in recent weeks. The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently began running an ad in which Mr. Lautenberg is accused of "shamelessly ducking" debates because he is afraid of his poor record.
Joe Kyrillos, chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, said, "There are a lot of traditional debate staples that all major candidates from both parties agree to," but that the Lautenberg camp is not agreeing to.
"No matter what age you are, if you're running for the U.S. Senate, you owe it to the voters to get out there and hash out ideas that are important to your state," Mr. Kyrillos said.
Richard McGrath, spokesman for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, said Mr. Lautenberg's camp has been busy trying to "compress a year's worth of campaigning into five weeks." He also said that if the Forrester camp "spent half as much time addressing the issues as they do complaining, then Mr. Forrester might not be such a blank slate in the eyes of the voters."
The Quinnipiac poll found Mr. Lautenberg leading among two crucial groups independents, who back him 55 percent to 37 percent, and women, who support him 59 percent to 35 percent.
"The large gender gap in the race, with Lautenberg the heavy favorite among women, suggests Forrester is being hurt by his abortion views and his position that current gun-control laws are adequate," Mr. Richards said.
Mr. Lautenberg has been telling voters that Mr. Forrester is too conservative on the issues of abortion rights and gun control.
Earlier in the week, Forrester campaign spokesman Bill Pascoe reacted to the Quinnipiac poll numbers by subtly slamming Mr. Lautenberg's age something that many Republicans have been doing lately.
"Perhaps Mr. Lautenberg should remind his campaign staff of the story of Tom Dewey and Harry Truman on the value of some polls," Mr. Pascoe said. "Mr. Dewey, after all, was another candidate who looked to have a lock on his 1948 election, and while most of Mr. Lautenberg's campaign staff wasn't even alive when that election took place, it's an even bet that Mr. Lautenberg remembers that one; it was, after all, the first chance he had to vote in a presidential election."
Mr. Forrester, meanwhile, has continued to note that Mr. Lautenberg voted against military action in Iraq in 1991 and voted repeatedly against missile defense and the death penalty for terrorists who murder Americans.

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