WASHINGTON -- Vice President Biden has canceled an Oct. 11 campaign stop for Cory Booker, the Booker Senate campaign announced Tuesday morning, citing the ongoing government shutdown.
The announcement comes as the shutdown drags on with no end in sight, and as a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University gives Booker a 16 point lead over Republican Steve Lonegan (45-29) among registered voters.
The lead is larger than other recent polls, that have put the Democrats' lead as small as 12 points. Those polls surveyed likely voters in the unusual Oct. 16 special election, as opposed to registered voters, whose turnout is uncertain.
Ironically, Booker has tried to use the shutdown to his advantage recently, pointing to the stalemate in Washington as a tangible example of the gridlock that would result from what he says are Lonegan's uncompromising views. In Friday's Senate debate he repeatedly tried to tie Lonegan to the Republican hard-liners, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who pushed for a fight over President Obama's health law and federal spending bills. Booker has scheduled an event Tuesday to hammer Lonegan over the shutdown's effect on New Jersey.
"Right now the tea party is controlling the Republican party," Booker told reporters after Friday's debate. "This election will be in many ways what New Jerseyans want to have in Washington - somebody who will take the tea party agenda and drive it even further, makes what’s wrong with Washington worse, or sending someone down there who has a really good track record of working with people of all parties."
Lonegan has publicly touted his support for Cruz and other Republicans who have led the latest fight over Obamacare, and has urged the GOP to "hold the line" in the current standoff. Asked about that position Friday, as the shutdown dragged on, Lonegan said he backed a strategy of Republicans standing firm.
"Unless of course Barack Obama and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid are willing to compromise, which apparently they’re not," Lonegan said.
He said Obama's health law - widely known as Obamacare -- should be delayed for a year.
"If it needs improvement, then why is it being forced on Americans?" Lonegan asked. "Lets give every American the same opportunity that Barack Obama has given to his big corporate friends who've been given a reprieve," he said.
Lonegan, who has racked up endorsements from conservative Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, today announced that he had won the backing of moderate Scott Brown, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts. Lonegan advisor Rick Shaftan announced the endorsement on Twitter.
More soon. Lonegan and Booker's second debate is Wednesday night at Rowan University and will be broadcast on NBC10. The Inquirer is a co-sponsor.