Republican Still Trails But Hopes To Gain Momentum Campaigning With Palin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mudslinging has reached a fever pitch in the race for U.S. Senate in New Jersey.

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During Wednesday night’s contentious debate, Democrat Cory Booker accused his opponent of being tea party extremist, while Republican Steve Lonegan said Booker is nothing but a Hollywood stand-in for President Barack Obama.

The Senate showdown will continue until voters go to the polls next week, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

Newark Mayor Booker took time out from his campaign to announce that upscale supermarket Whole Foods will open a branch in his city, a branch, officials said, that will charge “affordable” prices for local residents.

“If you have an impossible dream; if you have an impossible dream, don’t give up,” Booker said.

This as Booker and former Bogota Mayor Lonegan clashed repeatedly during their final debate before Election Day. There was intense and palpable animosity between the two, including the following exchange over the rollback of government programs like the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the cleanliness of Newark’s Passaic River.

“You may not be able to swim in that river, but it’s probably — I think because of all the bodies floating around from shooting victims in your city…” Lonegan said.

To which Booker replied, “Oh my God. Oh my God.”

“Yeah, ‘Oh my God,’ you use these words like a tea party extremist,” Lonegan said.

“This is what he thinks of our city, that there are bodies in the river. How insulting is that?” Booker replied.

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Yes, insults were the order of the day as both men sought to move closer to victory and then fill the remaining year of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat in Washington.

“If you sent Steve Lonegan down to Washington it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” Booker said.

“My opponent in this race, Mr. Booker, he’s only the Hollywood stand-in for Barack Obama,” Lonegan said.

“It seems like what he’s doing is to try to run and replace Rush Limbaugh, not Frank Lautenberg,” Booker said.

“The only birds in Newark are the vultures the political hacks that are picking away at the carcasses of the taxpayers of that city,” Lonegan said.

The latest poll has Booker ahead of Lonegan by 12 points, but there is a large gender gap. Women favor Booker, while men favor Lonegan.

Booker got bad news on Thursday. His father died in Las Vegas. The Newark mayor then cancelled all his campaign events for the day.

Meanwhile Lonegan was hoping to pick up support when former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joins him to campaign on Saturday, Kramer reported.

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