Cory Booker came to the second and final Senatorial debate prepared to portray Steve Lonegan as a Tea Party extremist, and Lonegan cooperated.
Lonegan came prepared with facts and punchlines. Booker turned nearly every question into an opportunity to portray himself as a compromiser who will go to Washington to get things done and Lonegan as an extremist.
Early on in this campaign, Lonegan acknowledged he “lacked a filter” between what he really thinks and what he says. He seems to have developed a filter over the last several weeks, but he left it at home tonight.
Lonegan’s hardest punchlines are likely to be used against him over the the final week of the campaign. “You might not be able to swim in that river, but its probably because of all the bodies in it from shooting victims” and “you’ll abort a baby in its 8th month of delivery,” will very likely be used relentlessly by the Booker campaign and they ramp up their Get Out The Vote machine in the coming week.
With more substantive answers, Lonegan probably won on debating points. But debating points don’t win elections. Both candidates were on message and their message was the same…Steve Lonegan is an antagonistic extremist. At least he was tonight.
If the Lonegan/Shaftan strategy was to gin up their base, I’m sure it worked. But it probably turned off moderate voters who were leaning towards coming out for Lonegan. Booker’s money will make sure Lonegan rhetoric gins up his base in the coming week.
Sarah Palin and Mark Levin are coming to New Jersey to campaign for Lonegan at a Tea Party event in New Egypt on Saturday. If you’re willing to bet on that as a winning strategy for a New Jersey election, you’re probably also willing to bet that the 0-5 Giants will have home field advantage at the Super Bowl in February.
If I were betting on the next Wednesday’s election, I’d take Booker and give 18 points.