Less than two weeks before Election Day, President Barack Obama pumped up a crowd of 3,500 people in Hackensack who had waited in lines — some for hours — to see him endorse Gov. Jon Corzine and his “feisty Jewish grandmother” running mate, State Sen. Loretta Weinberg.
Obama shared the stage with Corzine and Weinberg at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack Oct. 21. Democrat Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, also made a guest appearance.
“We don’t need politicians who are more interested in scoring points than in solving problems,” Obama told the exuberant audience. “We’ve had enough of those kinds of politics in Trenton and Washington.”
Weinberg was introduced as the “first feisty Jewish grandmother” candidate for the state’s first lieutenant governor by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Dist. 37).
“We’re Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus,” Weinberg said. “We’re teachers, nurses, tradesmen, stay-at-home moms — and some of us are even grandmas.”
Corzine was banking on Obama’s star power to overcome detractors who said the gubernatorial election will be in part a referendum on Obama’s performance in his first months in office.
“I’m proud to be President Obama’s partner in building a better America and certainly building a better New Jersey,” said Corzine, before contrasting his record with that of his Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.
“The differences between Chris Christie and me could not be more stark,” said the governor.
Corzine said that Christie would “funnel money into private school vouchers,” a stance favored by Orthodox Jewish groups but rejected by much of the organized Jewish community.
Corzine called for “mammograms for all women,” referring to the campaign’s charge that Christie would allow health-insurance companies to drop state-mandated mammogram coverage for women — a charge Christie denies. Women supporters on stage wore bright pink “Mammos Matter” stickers.
“I ask you to stand strong with me,” Corzine said. “You do that, I’ll stand strong with you for the next four years.”
Obama addressed some of the economic issues that have emerged as key themes in both candidates’ campaigns.
Under Corzine there has been “more property tax relief than any governor in New Jersey’s history,” said Obama, adding that Corzine was the “first governor in 60 years who’s reduced the size of government” in the state.
He also boasted that under Corzine, New Jersey passed its own Economic Assistance and Recovery Plan last October, even before Obama came into office, and implemented his own stimulus package.
“Jon Corzine is a serious man and he is serious about solving the problems of New Jersey,” Obama said. “That’s why New Jersey needs to give Jon Corzine another four years.”
Meanwhile, Christie’s campaign was dismissive of the Corzine-Obama event.
“Jon Corzine rallies with President Obama while he continues to ignore overtaxed New Jerseyans in Atlantic City, Vineland, Hackensack, and Belmar,” read a campaign statement.
During the rally, Christie was at a private home nearby and later at a diner in Hackensack, talking with “overtaxed homeowners.”