I have a Frank Lautenberg story
New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg passed away today, the last WWII veteran in the Senate. Despite his unfortunate choice of political parties, he was a great man: a war hero, a successful businessman, and an advocate for the people of New Jersey.
Back in 1988, I was a junior at Rutgers and Frank Lautenberg was running for re-election against Republican Pete Dawkins. Dawkins had a dream resume: he had won the Heisman Trophy for West Point in 1958, became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, got his PhD from Princeton, became a Brigadier General in the Army, won two Bronze Stars in Vietnam, and then became a partner on Wall Street.
The man had done it all. But the peripatetic trappings of a life in the military meant that Dawkins didn't have deep roots in New Jersey and the Lautenberg campaign ran a commercial (can't find it on YouTube) that just cut him to the core. I remember it was a video of Dawkins responding to a question about running in NJ and the awkward answer concluded with a black screen and an exasperated voiceover: "C'mon Pete." It was devastating and Dawkins lost the election by eight points.