Senate candidates debate in 6abc studios

June 1, 2008 2:17:23 PM PDT
This weekend, the men who want to fill a New Jersey senate seat will debate the issues. In a spirited half-hour debate sponsored by 6abc at our Trenton studio the Republicans vying for the GOP Senate nomination jousted on issues like the economy, gas prices and Iraq. Murray Sabrin, a finance professor at Ramapo College is the only candidate calling for a firm U.S. withdrawal by 2010.

"I put down a timetable. Why? Because it's the best interest of the American people and the Iraqi people to leave Iraq with honor and dignity," said Sabrin.

But state senator Joseph Pennacchio, a Morris County dentist...and former congressman and lobbyist Dick Zimmer disagree.

"A rigid timetable without regard to the best judgment of the generals in regard to the political and military reality could lead to a catastrophe," said Zimmer.

"If the enemy, and there are enemies in Iraq, know that we are leaving at a certain time all they will do is back off, wait until we leave, or start leving, and make it harder for us," said Pennacchio.

When it came to the Democrats' debate only Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello and South Jersey congressman Rob Andrews participated. Incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg declined our invitation and instead appeared in north Jersey to accept an endorsement from a Longshoremen's union.

Lautenberg has limited his campaign appearances, prompting some--including his opponents--to question whether the 84 year old is up to another 6-year term.

"I'm not sure he can complete his term. Is he capable today? I assume he is but time has a way of creeping up on us very quickly," said Cresitello.

"Elections are not coronations. You have to go out and earn people's vote. I think the senator has chosen a path where he's avoided answering questions," said Andrews