Senate radio debate gives national issues local flare

The Democratic candidates running to take Sen. Frank Lautenberg?s (D- N.J.) seat in November faced off against the lawmaker in a radio debate Thursday.

The debate proved to be a microcosm of the presidential campaign, tackling gas prices, the war in Iraq, the minimum wage and even the current senator?s age. Lautenberg, Congressman Rob Andrews and Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello took questions from New Jersey 101.5 callers throughout the debate.

All three candidates said they supported raising the minimum wage, and Andrews went further to say he would push for a living wage.

At one point Andrews, who has focused on Lautenberg?s age in his ads, thanked the 84-year-old senator for fighting in World War II. Andrews, 50, says he was being sincere, not mocking.

The three tried to differentiate themselves on issues like the war in Iraq, which all of the candidates say they are for ending. While Lautenberg called Andrews a cheerleader for the war and the Bush administration, Andrews maintained he voted 18 times to have a timetable for withdrawal.

All the while, Cresitello, sitting between the two other candidates, tried to remind everyone that there are actually three men in the race.

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