Philadelphia Inquirer

Cheney Speaks At Fund-Raiser For Forrester

The GOP says more than $300,000 was raised. The event drew protesters and Corzine supporters.

The Philadelphia Inquirer — Saturday, July 23, 2005

By Leonard N. Fleming
Inquirer Staff Writer

Vice President Cheney brought cash and controversy to the New Jersey governor's race yesterday by leading a fund-raiser for Republican Doug Forrester while allies of Democrat Jon S. Corzine and those protesting Bush administration policies assailed his visit.

Cheney addressed the 200 Republican Party supporters at the $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser in Princeton with a speech largely touting administration accomplishments. He praised Forrester as a man "who tells it like it is" with the "right priorities" for Trenton.

"Doug is going to the people of New Jersey with the clearest and positive message that it's time to reduce property taxes, control government spending and bring honesty and integrity to state government," Cheney said. "When it's time for action, you can always count on him to do the right thing."

Forrester continued his familiar attacks on Corzine by linking the senator to the taint of corruption haunting state Democrats.

"Jon Corzine cannot change New Jersey," Forrester said in a fiery tone. "He will not change New Jersey. He is part of the problem – he and his cronies. These are the people who are wrong for New Jersey."

Republican officials said that more than $300,000 was raised for Forrester. Both candidates are expected to shell out their own millions for a campaign already in full swing in July.

Meanwhile, surrogates of Corzine came out swinging at Forrester and the Republicans. Hours earlier at the Statehouse, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) lambasted Forrester for accepting money raised in June through events featuring Karl Rove, President Bush's close adviser now under scrutiny in the investigation over the revelation of the name of a CIA operative.

Lautenberg said he had a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures calling for the return of the money from the Rove fund-raisers and also a demand that Forrester not accept money from the Cheney event.

And with signs such as "Hands off my Social Security," scores of protesters stood outside the Westin Forrestal Village in the heat and griped about the Bush administration's plans to privatize Social Security, the war in Iraq, and Forrester's connections to the administration.

Debbie Sadel, 50, drove up from Little Silver to protest and held a sign that read, "Bush–Cheney lied, Thousands died." Sadel said she attended to fight the "lies and deception" coming out of Washington in regards to the Iraq war.

She supports Corzine because "he's really someone who's not terribly beholden to anyone."

Forrester, she said, is too cozy with the Bush administration.

Earlier than the traditional campaigning that starts in earnest after Labor Day, Forrester and Corzine have been trading shots like boxers. Forrester, who trails in early summer polling, has tried to link Corzine to the corruption scandals. Corzine has criticized Forrester's plans for tax relief as risky for New Jerseyans.

Cheney is among the many political heavyweights being asked to stump for a candidate between now and November and raise the already high profile of what is shaping up to be a fierce battle in one of only two gubernatorial contests this fall.

Tom Wilson, chairman of the state Republican Party, which hosted the fund-raiser, said big names would be stumping for Forrester. He would not be specific.

"Doug leads by example," Wilson said. "He's out there every day. He's meeting voters. He's making speeches. I think we caught the Democrats off guard."

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