New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt has sounded the battle cry in the upcoming race for the late Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat, proclaiming he is more qualified than Newark Mayor Cory Booker or anybody else.
"I am better prepared than any of the candidates in this primary and I have more of a record to prove it," Holt told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"Yes, I have what it takes to carry on Frank Lautenberg’s legacy."
Holt and Booker are two of the Garden State Democrats who have announced their bids for the vacant seat, the others being Rep. Frank Pallone and New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.
Holt said he decided "fairly quickly" after Lautenberg's death to enter the primary race for his seat.
"I would like to carry on his fight . . . to protect ordinary folks and consumers and workers and children," he said.
"We needed 1,000 signatures [to get on the ballot]. My volunteers collected nearly five times that many . . . I’m working hard and I hope to be, in fact I look forward to be, the next senator from New Jersey."
Booker is a media favorite and is better known on the national level, but Holt said name recognition is only one part of a candidate's success.
"Politics is not just about name recognition. It’s about accomplishment. It’s about substance. It’s about really having things that you can point to that make people’s lives better and will make people’s lives better," he said.
"I have a record in civil liberties and human rights and consumer protection and worker protection and education, particularly in science education, but also in college access and affordability."
He pointed to the legislation he helped author to keep student interest rates for college loans low, and said he was one of the earliest politicians to call for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It’s a record that I point to that a lot of people find convincing," he said.
Holt, a former professor in public policy and physics, said he is not convinced the surveillance programs used by the National Security Agency to collect phone and email records in a bid to root out terrorists are within reason.
"If you had someone marching into every home in America every few days looking for people who are up to no good, they’re going to find some. They’re going to find some people up to no good," he said.
"That is not the America that so many from around the world have moved to to avoid oppressive societies. That is not the America that the founding fathers had in mind."
He said he believes the revelation in Investor's Business Daily on Thursday that the FBI must receive special permission to enter mosques was "a corrective action" that is not necessarily right.
"They had gone overboard surveilling mosques and surveilling food stores where Muslims shopped, or as they would put it, 'suspected Muslims,'" he said.
"Muslims shouldn’t be suspect right off the bat. The Fourth Amendment says Americans aren’t guilty by presumption, they are found guilty by evidence and we should cast suspicion only when there is probable cause to do so.
"That’s a big different between our country and many other countries and it is an important difference."
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