October 17, 2004


Memories of Sept. 11 weigh heavily on New Jerseyans as election nears (DONNA DE LA CRUZ, 10/17/04, The Associated Press)

One fact led President Bush to choose New Jersey, a Democratic presidential stronghold, as the backdrop for a homeland security campaign speech Monday: terror and the Sept. 11 attacks are as crucial for New Jersey voters as they are for Bush's re-election campaign.

That day is more than a sad anniversary in this picturesque northern New Jersey town, which lost a dozen residents to the attack on the World Trade Center. The solace townspeople sought then in a religious gift shop three years ago remains elusive today.

"People were coming in, looking for anything they could give to friends and family who lost loved ones," said Mary Banyra, who still works behind the counter at McLaughlin & Sons.

"Everybody was crying. I still feel the pain."

She is not alone. Nearly 700 New Jersey people died in the attack, after New York the highest toll paid by any state from Sept. 11, 2001. New Jerseyans' lingering angst — state polls indicate Sept. 11 is a major factor in the presidential race — is the main reason Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry are in a tight race for the 15 electoral votes from the state that last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1988. [...]

Bush makes a return visit Monday to deliver what aides describe as a major terrorism address in Marlton. Unlike Ridgewood, that southern New Jersey town is beyond sight of the Twin Towers-less Manhattan skyline but is close enough to Pennsylvania, another contested state, to earn ample coverage by news crews from Philadelphia television stations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 17, 2004 6:01 PM

Perhaps the voters in NJ are just tired of the McGreevey stains (not only the gay stuff, but the corruption). And Frank Lautenberg is an embarrasment. The 9/11 memories are not the only reason for GOP gains.

And corruption certainly doesn't help the Democrats in Philadelphia.

Posted by: ratbert at October 18, 2004 9:24 AM

The GOP in NJ is every bit as corrupt as the Democrats. The prior governor, DiFrancesco, ceased his campaign amid bribery allegations.

NJ voters are overwhelmingly centrist. Bush got waxed here last time because Gore could successfully paint him as an extremist. Now, after 4 moderate years in office, Bush is capable of turning the tables on Kerry, who is to the left of Teddy.

Posted by: Bart at October 18, 2004 12:52 PM