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NJ's US Senate candidates focus on economy

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 2:01 am •  Published: October 11, 2012

EWING, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's two major-party candidates for U.S. Senate highlighted their differing approaches to jumpstarting the nation's economy during their second debate, while trying to blame each other for the economy's lackluster state and the struggles of the middle-class.

With just under a month to go in their campaign, Sen. Bob Menendez, the incumbent Democrat, and Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, a veteran state legislator, stuck mainly to their respective party's talking points on issues such as health care and illegal immigration on Wednesday, but they were most animated when arguing over the economy.

"You've been in the Legislature for 24 years — other states see their unemployment lowering. What are you doing about creating jobs," Menendez asked.

"We have 450,000 New Jersey citizens out of work. The jobs you cite from your stimulus program were very, very expensive adding nearly $1 trillion to the debt of the country," Kyrillos replied.

The second of their three scheduled face-to-face matchups featured lively, free-flowing exchanges sparked primarily by questions called in from listeners of Townsquare Media's NJ101.5 FM, the sponsor of the live, one-hour debate. The third debate will be broadcast Sunday.

Some of the candidates' most obvious differences came when they were permitted to question one another. Menendez asked Kyrillos about Romney's "47 percent" comment about the number of Americans who earn too little to pay personal income taxes and why he voted along party lines to deny $8 million in state funding for women's health centers. Kyrillos asked Menendez if he'd vote differently on the economic strategy the Democrats have pursued and about whether his jobs creation plan could be accomplished without spending more money or raising taxes.

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