Lautenberg urges political reforms

Princeton, N.J. - U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) yesterday lambasted partisan-politics, encouraged campaign finance reform and urged Princeton University students to seek public office as he reflected on important moments in his soon-to-end Senate career. His remarks were made during an afternoon lecture in Dodds Auditorium before an audience of students and others at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

Addressing the condition of politics today, Sen. Lautenberg expressed regret concerning the presence of partisan politics in government, noting that "partisanship is at its worst." He expressed little hope that his colleague Vice President Al Gore would prevail through the current presidential election debacle and supported a statewide vote recount in Florida. However, the senator called partisanship a temporary problem. "What we're going to see as a result of the election is more bipartisanship, because otherwise nothing will get done," he said.

Sen. Lautenberg pressed for immediate campaign finance reform, noting that money issues were part of the reason he decided not to seek another term. "We need to get campaign financing into a different structure," he said. "Money has degraded politics to a salesman's trade."

Asserting the positive role that government has played in America, the senator also took a stand against proponents of smaller government. "It has an extraordinary influence and it is positive in most ways," he said. Sen. Lautenberg added that a system that does not assure people healthcare when they need it, "in a country as bountiful as ours is hardly a way for a country like America to be functioning."

Sen. Lautenberg took time to reminisce about his humble roots as the son of a silk-mill worker in Paterson, N.J., the financial struggles of the family after his father's death from colon cancer, and the new opportunities afforded him through a college education from Columbia University. Sen. Lautenberg also spoke of his success in business as the founder of Automatic Data Processing (ADP), one of the largest computing services companies in the world.

He also reflected on accomplishments in his Senate career, including his contributions to the Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts, laws that established 21 as the national legal drinking age, and most recently, the .08 National Drunk Driving Standard, which sets .08 as the national blood alcohol limit for drunk driving.

"Life in the Senate has been quite an experience," Sen. Lautenberg concluded. In light of his own positive experience, the senator made appeals to younger people, encouraging them to become involved in public service. Speaking directly to the students in the audience, he assured, "If you try it, you'll like it."

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601