Menendez, Hugin face off in lone debate for New Jersey US Senate

There was no love lost between the two senators.

David Madden
October 24, 2018 - 10:44 pm
Senators Bob Menendez and Bog Hugin

David Madden | KYW Newsradio

NEWARK, NJ (KYW Newsradio) -- The two combatants in the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey took part in their one and only debate Wednesday night in Newark. There was no love lost between incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Bob Hugin.
                
The encounter, aired on NJTV, led off with a discussion of the pipe bomb attempts on former Presidents Obama, Clinton and others. Menendez called President Trump the “divider in chief,” citing verbal attacks on anyone or anything he disagrees with.
                
“When you create that kind of environment, then you create a toxic environment,” Menendez said. “I have stood up to this president on all of these issues. My opponent has remained silent on all of these issues.”
                
Hugin insisted violence of any kind has no place in politics in this country.
               
“Incivility we’ve seen in this society is unacceptable,” Hugin said, “and one of the reasons I’m running is our country has become too partisan and Senator Menendez is like that.”

READ: Foundation grant will help Camden County prison inmates adjust to life on the outside

The two traded barbs on each other’s past.
                
Hugin, for example, highlighted Menendez’s federal corruption trial, which ended with a hung jury. Menendez took Hugin to task for his time as a drug company CEO where he made his fortune.
                
But they also touched on several issues, ranging from immigration and Saudi arms sales to healthcare, race relations and the economy.

READ: NJ woman may have thwarted a school shooting in Kentucky

Closer to home, the two men addressed the ongoing debate on the Gateway Tunnel project into New York City and the challenge of affording to live in the Garden State.
                
Perhaps the most contentious moment came when they were asked about the tone of their campaign.
                
A viewer submitted a question asking if either man was “worthy to represent the people of New Jersey.”
                
Menendez responded that he had “taken $25 million of false, negative advertising” much of which has been debunked by media outlets, particularly one ad stemming from the corruption probe that suggested the Senator traveled out of the country for sexual encounters. Hugin insisted the claim was made in a sworn FBI affidavit, and said when he started the campaign, “less than one in three New Jerseyans knew that Senator Menendez had been indicted by the Obama Justice Department.”
                
Most polls have Menendez leading in his quest for a third term in the Senate, although much of that support is seen as lukewarm and some pundits suggest Hugin could pull out a win.