Andrews wants debates against Lautenberg

April 28, 2008 11:04:22 AM PDT
Representative Rob Andrews wants more than one debate a week in his primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

"Stop stalling. Stop hiding," Andrews challenged the 84-year-old incumbent. "Stop running a tired, negative, exhausted, status quo campaign."

On Monday, Andrews demanded at least seven debates with Lautenberg before New Jersey's Democratic primary on June 3.

Julie Roginsky, a spokeswoman for Lautenberg, said the four-term incumbent senator would debate the veteran congressman, but she wouldn't offer specifics on how often or when.

"We're not going to debate debates," Roginsky said. "Congressman Andrews knows we've agreed to debate. He's beating a dead horse."

Andrews said he has received invitations from 11 organizations willing to sponsor debates and accepted all of them. He said three weeks have passed since the first invitation.

The 50-year-old Andrews compared his demand for debates to Lautenberg's first Senate run in 1982. At the time, Lautenberg proposed more than a dozen debates around the state in a campaign that highlighted his opponent's age.

"He said that five wasn't enough in 1982, when he accused Congresswoman Fenwick of not being energetic enough to represent the people of the state," Andrews said. "He said that she didn't have the energy level at the age of 72 to be a senator."

Now Lautenberg is the elder lawmaker and a challenger 34 years his younger, with less name recognition, is demanding the rigorous debate schedule with the hopes that it leads to more name recognition for Andrews in his first run for statewide office.

"That's true," he said flatly. "I want everybody in the state who votes to know who I am and what I stand for."