CLARK, N.J. - Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul stepped into the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey on Friday, endorsing the Republican candidate and urging the party to expand its ranks.

The tea-party darling and libertarian came to so-called Blue Jersey to support Steve Lonegan, who faces Democrat Mayor Cory Booker of Newark in the Oct. 16 election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg.

Paul's visit followed a protracted spat with Republican Gov. Christie over national security and federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Both are potential 2016 presidential candidates.

Paul told a cheering crowd of about 200 outside a banquet hall in Clark that Lonegan would uphold the principles they both shared, including shrinking the size of government, opposing government surveillance, and cutting spending. Both are opposed to military intervention in Syria. He urged the audience to rally Republicans to the polls.

"Steve Lonegan can win, and he only wins in a blue state like this if you go out and turn out every friend and make some new friends and turn them out," Paul said.

The Republican Party must become one that is more inclusive and "looks like the rest of America" in order to win, he said.

A beaming Lonegan stepped to the lectern and lavished praise on Paul.

"I look forward to the day I join Sen. Paul in the effort to restore individual liberty in this country," Lonegan said.

Christie had been invited to the rally but declined, saying he and his wife would be celebrating her 50th birthday. Instead, the governor spent the day at the Shore, where a massive fire destroyed a boardwalk Thursday. The site was recently rebuilt, less than a year after it was heavily damaged by Sandy.