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Saturday, June 17, 2006

This will not be pretty

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Menendez Takes Gloves Off While Kean Keeps His On

Published: June 17, 2006

ATLANTIC CITY, June 16 — For State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., it appears that campaigns and confrontations do not mix.

At the annual conference of the New Jersey Association of Counties here on Friday, Mr. Kean, a Republican running for the United States Senate, and his Democratic opponent, Senator Robert Menendez, were expected to jump-start a highly competitive and widely observed race.

First, Mr. Menendez issued a blistering attack, denouncing Mr. Kean for running a "campaign of cowardice" and spreading "malicious, insidious personal attacks."

How did Mr. Kean respond? Surprising the event's organizers, he did not take the stage with Mr. Menendez, remaining in a nearby room, making phone calls.

Later, in a brief address, Mr. Kean emphasized policy themes, focusing more on state issues than on the mix of national and international topics that Mr. Menendez had covered.

Mr. Kean railed against the state's high taxes, finding a receptive audience, and criticized Mr. Menendez for voting against tax relief in Congress.

Distancing himself from President Bush — whose approval ratings in New Jersey are at a meager 28 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll — Mr. Kean criticized Mr. Bush for not cutting spending in six years.

Then he hurried from reporters and declined to strike back at Mr. Menendez, saying, "We are focused on the issues that are important to the people of the state of New Jersey."

Menendez is pissed because the NJGOP ran a seriously nasty attack on his patriotism last week.

Kean is gonna be eaten alive if he tries to patrician his way into the Senate. Menendez has a hard core base of support and Kean needs to show he can fight to have any hope of winning.

What has amazed me are the number of liberals who hold their nose when Menendez is mentioned. They assume he's got corruption around him, when the opposite is true. I covered him Union City 20 years ago and it was clear he was going to the Senate even then.

North Jersey is not for the faint of political heart, but Menendez stayed clean while everyone around him was dirty as a football uniform after a game.

posted by Steve @ 1:26:00 AM

1:26:00 AM

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