In Princeton, Menendez Seeks to Educate Rival Hugin

PRINCETON – Bob Hugin came to Princeton more than 40 years ago to get an Ivy League education.

Bob Menendez came here on Friday to trash Hugin’s fitness to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Talk about two different Bobs from Union City.

Menendez led a boisterous rally in front of the iconic Tiger statue in Palmer Square that denounced his Republican challenger for opposing the rights of women and gays.

This is not a new charge, but Menendez keeps using it, obviously feeling it’s an effective issue.

He may be right about that. Many polls suggest that it’s women – active Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans – who are likely to support a progressive candidate this fall because of their opposition to the president.

It surfaced over the summer that while at Princeton, Hugin had opposed admitting women and gays to the university’s prized eating clubs. That was when he was an undergraduate. But the problem for Hugin is magnified by the fact he kept up the fight after he graduated.

The Menendez camp distributed a Philadelphia Inquirer article from 1992 that reported the end of a 13-year battle to allow women into the Tiger Inn. The settlement came after a court ruling upholding a state Civil Rights Division order to in admit women. The article quotes Hugin, who was president of the Tiger Inn at the time, as saying the plaintiff in the case was guilty of “politically correct fascism.”

Hugin says his views on such things have changed and he has run television commercials saying precisely that.  He also is holding events specifically for women.

Menendez is not buying it. He and a number of other representatives of gay and women’s organizations took turns lambasting Hugin for what they said were his financial support for politicians who oppose women and gay interests.

That roster included the conservative Heritage Foundation, Donald Trump and Chris Christie.

“New Jerseyans cannot trust Bob Hugin to stand up against the Trump Administration’s assaults on the rights of women, LGBTQ Americans, workers and voters,” the senator said.

He mocked Hugin’s claim that he has evolved, noting that a “tiger never changes its stripes.”   The more common phrase may be that a “leopard never changes its spots,” but this was Princeton, so you figure the tiger reference made sense.

As often has been the case, Menendez and his supporters were not alone.

A group of Hugin backers stood in the background holding signs that called Menendez corrupt.

At one point, they started chanting, “Menendez is corrupt.”

That prompted the senator’s supporters to chant, “Six more years.”

Asked about the protesters, Menendez dismissed them as people being paid by the Hugin campaign.

As for the charge of corruption, Menendez said a jury never convicted him of anything and that Trump’s Justice Department opted not to try him again.

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