Published: October 13, 2005
NEWARK, Oct. 12 - With polls showing that the race for New Jersey governor is tightening, Rudolph W. Giuliani appeared in Scotch Plains on Wednesday to campaign beside the Republican candidate, Douglas R. Forrester, while in Newark, John Edwards, the former senator and vice presidential nominee, stumped for his fellow Democrat, Senator Jon S. Corzine.
Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Edwards, often mentioned as possible presidential candidates, are among the first in a series of marquee names expected to visit New Jersey in the next month on behalf of Mr. Forrester and Senator Corzine.
And in Scotch Plains, at the Knights of Columbus hall, there was no doubting who was the star. Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a Republican, was applauded more loudly by the crowd of about 150 than the candidate he was campaigning for.
Nonetheless, Mr. Giuliani steered the focus to Mr. Forrester. "People in New Jersey voting for reform by voting for Doug Forrester could send a real signal to the entire region," he said. "It's important for us."
Mr. Corzine's event, a luncheon at the Theater Square Grill at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, included similar oratory in a more upscale setting. About 150 people paid $1,500 a plate for the luncheon, which was organized by the state's Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Senator Corzine did not attend - he had previous engagements farther south, according to his campaign - but several speakers lauded the candidate's efforts. Mr. Edwards said New Jersey would not be able to find a better governor. "I have seen up close, when no one else was looking," he said, "the kind of strength, character and leadership that Jon Corzine possesses."
National political figures carry an important allure, said Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, a fellow Democrat. He said that when former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Senator Corzine last month at Kean University, he "clearly had a bounce" in momentum.
Mr. Forrester received a boost of his own earlier this year when Vice President Dick Cheney joined him on the campaign trail. And more big-name Republicans are expected to visit the state on his behalf before the November election, including Senator John McCain of Arizona and the first lady, Laura Bush.
At least one person, however, will likely be absent: President Bush. At the luncheon on Wednesday, Governor Codey challenged Mr. Forrester to bring the president to New Jersey, but Mr. Forrester said "there are no plans" to do so.
"We're getting pretty close to Election Day," he said. "To arrange a presidential visit like that requires a lot of scheduling and advance notice."
Damien Cave reported from Newark for this article and Caren Chesler from Scotch Plains.