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New Jersey: Lautenberg, Andrews Trade Barbs on Iraq, D.C.

Throughout the Senate Democratic primary, the campaign of Sen. Frank Lautenberg has made hammering Rep. Robert Andrews about co-sponsoring the resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq in 2002 its major line of attack.

And with two weeks to go before voters head to the polls, the Lautenberg campaign appears only to be intensifying its efforts on that front.

A new Lautenberg campaign commercial began airing late last week that states: “Andrews co-wrote Bush’s resolution getting us into Iraq. Sen. Lautenberg’s fighting to get us out.”

Meanwhile, the issue was a major point of concern raised by Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) at a Capitol Hill press conference last Thursday at which the entire New Jersey Democratic Congressional delegation (except Andrews, of course) praised Lautenberg’s work on behalf of the state.

While defending his co-sponsorship of the 2002 resolution as the right decision at the time, Andrews has sought to put Lautenberg on the defensive by claiming that the longtime Senator has grown out of touch with the Garden State during his time in Washington, D.C.

Last week, Andrews’ campaign sought to demonstrate that point by claiming Lautenberg had designated his D.C. condo as his primary residence on tax forms prior to 2005 in order to claim a rebate from the city.

Lautenberg’s camp has said the Senator never asked for nor filed for the rebate and has released a letter from the city’s Real Property Tax Administration that states as much.

But Andrews isn’t letting the issue go. On Friday, the Congressman’s campaign filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city government asking for all documents related to the tax rebate.

On Monday, Lautenberg spokeswoman Julie Roginsky said that Andrews filed his FOIA request because he has been forced to focus on “invented issues” to try to divert attention away from the subject of the Iraq War.

“They are desperate and would rather talk about anything and invent anything than talk about Congressman Andrews’ despicable record on co-authoring the Iraq War resolution and lobbying his fellow House Democrats to support it.”

Both the Iraq War and the debate over who is more grounded in New Jersey are sure to be topics of discussion next week during the only two debates that are scheduled for the primary race.

— John McArdle

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