"I have a professional, cordial relationship with the governor," he said, and he pointed to federal funding he's helped bring to New Jersey partly at Christie's behest.
Kyrillos retorted, "Those aren't special."
"That's part of the in-basket," he said. "What we're talking about here is the ability to communicate with the governor, whoever he is."
In the rapid-fire debate, the candidates were held, with rare and brief exceptions, to two-minute answers.
Candidates covered abortion: Both say they support abortion rights, though Menendez charged that Kyrillos has changed his stance over the years.
They addressed Iran policy, with Menendez saying the economic sanctions he sponsored are working and Kyrillos saying it doesn't look as though the sanctions are working and President Barack Obama is not showing enough leadership in the Middle East.
And they tackled Amtrak. Menendez said it must be preserved but didn't go into detail about in what form. Kyrillos said he's open to privatization if it means good service and reasonable rates.
The only laugh lines of the debate came on the national rail system.
"I love taking the Amtrak down to Washington, D.C.," Kyrillos said. "I hope to do it a lot more starting in January."
Menendez responded that he supports that.
"I hope you're going to come visit me a lot on Amtrak," he said. "You can visit our office. We'll give you a Capitol tour."
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