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Government Shutdown Become Major Talking Point In NJ Senate Special Election

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By Cleve Bryan, Ian Bush

CAMDEN, N.J., (CBS) — With the special election to fill New Jersey’s vacant Senate seat in Congress just a few days away, Democrat Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan are hitting the campaign trail hard.

During a stop in Camden, Booker told Eyewitness News he would fight gridlock in Washington, D.C.

“I will work on strategies to avoid shutdowns to get us back working forward. (Lonegan) would go down there to create more shutdowns and extend this one,” says Booker.

In contrast to Booker’s condemnation of the partial federal government shutdown, Lonegan told supporters at a rally in Medford he would hold the line with fighting the start of the next phase of the Affordable Care Act.

“Yes I want to hold the line because I’m not going to bankrupt this country for my children,” says Lonegan, “we need to cut spending and cut deeply.”

Lonegan and Booker traveled across the state shaking hands, posing for pictures, and reminding voters that Wednesday is Special Election Day. The candidates made stops Monday afternoon in South Jersey.

If you believe Lonegan, this race is about a whole lot more than filling the late Frank Lautenberg’s seat.

“What’s on the ballot in New Jersey is the future of the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the meaning of individual liberty,” Lonegan said.

And for Booker, speaking in Camden, it’s a referendum on what he calls the Tea Party government shutdown.

“All of these views are representative of the extreme right of our country — a Tea Party that would rather shut down our government than bring people together and move forward,” Booker said.

Lonegan, in Medford, says bah! to fears of a federal default, calling the debt ceiling deadline the day after the election a “phony charge” by President Obama.

“We have plenty of money to pay the debt. We’re required under the constitution to pay the debt,” Lonegan said.

One survey has the Republican making up ground, only 10 points behind. Another shows the Democrat taking a 22 percent lead. Though, as politicians are famous for saying, the only poll that matters is on Election Day — even when it falls on a Wednesday.

The special election will happen Wednesday, October 16.

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