Democrats Oliver, Holt & Pallone Debate

STATE — Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone discussed breaking up big banks, stopping warrantless spying on Americans, job growth, and gun control while Newark Mayor Cory Booker dodged the first of five Democratic debates before the Aug. 13 U.S. Senate primary.

U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone appear with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Democratic gubernatorial nominee and state Sen. Barbara Bouno, Milly Silva, the expected pick for lieutenant governor and representatives from the Service Employees International Union during a recent news conference. Oliver, Holt and Pallone are showing up at events and debates while the supposed front runner for Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat has been in hiding, collecting millions in donations from Wall Street and Hollywood while leaving Garden State voters to wonder if he is a coward.

“He’s very much with Wall Street,” Pallone said of Booker. “During the presidential campaign, he criticized President Obama for attacking Gov. Romney over Bain Capital.”

Booker’s absence is nothing new. For much of his tenure as Newark mayor, critics have been saying Booker spends too much time raising his profile on late-night talk shows in New York and elsewhere to be an effective public servant.

Only Booker supports Republican style policies such as school tuition vouchers, tax cuts for millionaires, privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare, laying off government workers and selling public assets as municipal water supplies.

But while Pallone would focus on implementing Obama’s health-care overhaul, Holt said America needs a universal, single-payer system.

The debate, held at WPI-TV’s Trenton bureau, was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, WPVI, WABC-TV, Noticias Univision-41, and the Bergen County Record.

It will be broadcast Sunday on ABC’s New York channel 7 at 11 a.m. and on channel 6, the Phildelphia ABC station, at 1 p.m. It will also be available online at

The candidates trained most of their attacks on Republicans over issues ranging from education to women’s rights, and from stringent gun laws to GOP efforts to shred the social safety net by cutting Medicare, Social Security and food stamps.

The elephant in the room was the closet-Republican’s absence. Poverty, violent crime rates and unemployment in Newark are significantly worse than when Booker took office. According to the latest Census data, 44 percent of Newark’s children live in poverty.

The debate was moderated by ABC news anchors Brian Taff, Sandra Bookman; Alfred Doblin of the Record and Enrique Teutelo of Noticias Univision 41.


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