STATE—President George W. Bush plans attend a Colts Neck fundraiser on Monday Sept 22 for Republican Congressional candidates, state Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon) and Medford Mayor Chris Myers.
The visit has given Democrats a chance to again link their rivals to Bush’s disastrous record of the last eight years: Hurricane Katrina and cronyism embodied by FEMA director Michael Brown; 30,000 American troops dead, maimed or mentally scarred; the president’s aircraft carrier landing and ‘Mission Accomplished’ declaration while Iraq remained unstable; torture at secret prisons, Guantanamo and the Abu-Garib scandal; along with tax giveaways for Big Oil companies and wealthy people who do not work.
In the 7th Congressional District, a hot race is brewing between Lance and Assemblywoman Linda Stender, the Democrat who was closely defeated by incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Ferguson two years ago.
“Leonard Lance has been saying he’s independent and that he goes against his party, while we’ve been making the case that he is a Bush Republican, and in terms of his energy policy, which includes taking money from big oil, he just represents more of the same,” said Stender spokesperson Irene Lin.
If Bush and Big Oil are the soft targets for the Democrats, Lance’s campaign for weeks has demanded – to no avail – that Stender return campaign contributions from embattled U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who last week ate another damning New York Times headline about his failure to disclose ownership of a Dominican beach house, for which he receives about $75,000 annually.
“While Republicans are wining and dining with George W. Bush, thousands of families throughout New Jersey are facing hard economic decisions and stretching their budgets so they can afford groceries, a full tank of gas and stay out of foreclosure,” said Democratic Party strategist James J. Devine.
“American families are tired of spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while our own economy is in shambles. New Jersey families are tired of skyrocketing healthcare costs, rising food prices, and an unstable housing market,” said Devine. “New Jersey families can’t wait to bring the Bush era to an end.”
Bad economic news continues to further weigh down the Bush record, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting a five-year high unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, payroll losses averaging 76,000 per month, and the number of people working part-time at a 15-year high of 5.7 million.
To the news that Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch, Sen. Lance attempted to pin blame for America’s economic downturn on Democratic leadership in New Jersey – even as he acknowledged that Bush has “made mistakes.”
“This news is particularly disturbing for New Jerseyans where our state pension fund lost $50 million on the sale of approximately 3 million shares of Lehman Brothers stocks,” said Lance in a statement. “And for a state that has some of the highest debt in the country, a $50 million loss is devastating.
“I have long been a forceful advocate for honest, prudent and conservative fiscal practices,” Lance said. “We see today what happens when greed, politics and short term thinking prevail. The Bush Administration and the Republican and Democratic Congresses have made mistakes, and the Corzine/McGreevey/Stender spending and borrowing have made things far worse for us in New Jersey.”