Cory Booker is a politician with "an imaginary friend with imaginary problems," Sen. Rand Paul said in a jab at the New Jersey Democratic Senate candidate Wednesday.
The Kentucky senator, who is heading to New Jersey to campaign for Republican nominee Steve Lonegan Friday, told Politico
that Booker needs to discuss the real problems the state is facing instead of making up stories about imaginary people.
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Booker, the mayor of Newark, has told stories about befriending a Newark drug lord he calls "T-Bone." However, Booker has since described his friend as an "archetype" of Newark, reports National Review.
Over the years, "T-Bone," who Booker says is a drug pusher who has alternately threatened his life and sobbed on his shoulder, has turned out to be a story Booker admitted to New Jersey media that he's told "a million times."
A Rutgers University history professor, Clement Price, told National Review he cornered the mayor, whom he describes as a friend, about the story because it "pandered to a stereotype of inner-city black men."
Since then, Booker has dropped T-Bone's sad tale from his speeches, but Paul told Politico he'd still love to meet Booker's "friend."
"If Cory will introduce me to T-Bone when I get there, I’d love to meet T-Bone," Paul said. "If T-Bone’s not real, maybe we need to get Mr. Booker to talk about real problems."
Paul describes Lonegan, who trails Booker in polls for the Oct. 16 special election to succeed the late Frank Lautenberg, as a solid conservative and defender of the Fourth Amendment.
Kevin Griffis, spokesman for Booker, responded to Paul's jabs with claims that Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, N.J., would "raise taxes on the working and middle classes and privatize Social Security, and he even opposed Hurricane Sandy aid. As mayor and as a leader of the tea party in New Jersey, Mr. Lonegan has only proven that he cares about the plight of the ultra-wealthy and big corporations."
Paul is one of a handful of GOP figures getting involved in the New Jersey Senate race. Republican Gov. Chris Christie, however, has been hesitant to publicly campaign for Lonegan, a long-time political foe who ran against him in a heated race in 2009 for the Republican nomination for governor
Paul has invited Christie to join him with Lonegan on Friday, but Christie turned him down
, saying he will be celebrating his wife Mary Pat's 50th birthday instead.
Paul joked about being disappointed by Christie's absence, saying "I really, really, really want to have a beer with him . . .We’ll break bread at some point in time. I’m a big believer in trying to defuse a situation rather than make it worse."
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