After months of staying above the fray, Gov. Corzine kicked off his re-election bid Tuesday night with an aggressive speech and a clear strategy: tying himself to the popular Obama administration and linking Republicans to former President Bush.
Aided by an appearance by Vice President Joe Biden, whose presence served to emphasize the ties to the popular new administration in Washington, Corzine vowed to make "the right" choices for New Jersey while saying Republicans are "out of step" with the state's values.
"We're going to win this election," a fiery Corzine said at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange. "You can be sure: I am going to fight like hell for our values."
Saddled with miserable approval ratings, Corzine called Obama a "partner."
Biden hammered that point home.
"We need Jon Corzine at the helm. Barack and I need him. America needs him," Biden said.
Corzine, who critics say has failed to score a major policy win, stressed social values and his personal story, emphasizing his humble roots in rural Illinois and service in the Marines. He is largely known as a multi-millionaire who once led Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.
Despite a dire budget, Corzine pointed to his stewardship during the national economic crisis and highlighted issues such as education, health care reform, the environment and stem cell research -- all of which expect to play well in a Democratic-heavy state. Republicans, he said, are on the wrong side of those debates.
"New Jersey cannot afford to be Bush-whacked again," he said.
Corzine trails in early polls, but has months, and millions of his own dollars, to make up the difference.
On Tuesday, he made his first full-throated entry into the race.
We'll have more on Corzine and the Republicans in Wednesday's Inquirer.