New Egypt, New Jersey (CNN) – What does a candidate do if he's down in the polls, days from the election, and his opponent is a political celebrity?
Answer: Bring in his own celebrity.
That's what Senate hopeful Steve Lonegan did this weekend, just days before he faces off against Democratic nominee and Newark Mayor Cory Booker in New Jersey's special U.S. Senate election on Wednesday.
His wild card? Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"Can the rest of America count on you to send Steve Lonegan to the United States Senate?" Palin asked the crowd Saturday at a rally for Lonegan in Ocean County. It was her first appearance at a tea party rally in more than a year, when she stumped for Ted Cruz in Texas in July 2012.
Lonegan, former mayor of Bogota, faces an uphill battle against Booker, a man well known on the national stage.
"Don't be measuring the drapes there just quite yet," Palin said in a warning to Booker.
Palin and Lonegan paint the race as a national referendum on President Barack Obama's policies, including Obamacare.
"When we go to Washington on October 17 (the day after the special election), it's going to be Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that are going to fold," Lonegan said at the rally.
Thanks in part to Lonegan's aggressive ad campaign, Booker's 28-percentage-point lead in August dipped to 12 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.
That's not surprising to some voters in New Jersey, a state where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans.
"There are a lot of people in the state that have conservative values and just don't know it," one woman, Alexandra Zazanis of North Arlington, said at the rally.
But another voter said he's not quite on board with Lonegan's policies.
"I'm a Republican, but I think Lonegan's a little bit too far to the right," Dave Munn said.
Krista Jenkins, Director of Public Mind At Farleigh Dickenson University, acknowledge that Lonegan has narrowed his gap with Booker, but added the Republican is still a longshot for the Senate seat.
"We're looking at a very blue state there's approximately 700,000 more registered Democrats than there are Republicans," she said. "So anyone who runs, with the exception of Chris Christie right now, anyone who runs as a Republican, you know, for the Senate is certainly going to have a more difficult time than somebody who's a Democrat."
And because Lonegan is a "movement conservative," not a moderate Republican, his uphill fight is "much steeper" the Garden State, she said.
Lonegan is against abortion rights and same-sex marriage, but his views on Booker seem to be getting all the attention. Lonegan fired one of his top advisers, Rick Shaftan, Friday after that adviser gave a profanity-laced interview, ridiculing Booker for having a Twitter exchange with a stripper.
"I don't know, it was like what a gay guy would say to a stripper," the adviser said.
Lonegan said he can't be responsible for what one of his supporters says.
"I have hundreds of activists, volunteers, donors, people on this campaign and I can't be responsible for what all of them say, but I will take responsibility – so I terminated the gentleman for his inappropriate comment," he told CNN.
Lonegan was criticized for his own comments about Booker after the Newark mayor addressed questions about whether he was gay.
"People who think I'm gay, some part of me thinks it's wonderful," Booker told The Washington Post. "Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I'm gay, and I say, 'So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight.'"
Lonegan weighed in on Booker's comments during an August radio interview.
"It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy," he said.
Then there was the comment that Lonegan made during last week's debate: "All that income tax and sales tax money gets poured into the big black hole of Newark."
After facing some backlash from critics saying his remark was racist, Lonegan said Saturday, "the liberal media is going to say what they want to say."
"Newark's budget is a big black hole," he continued. "And it sucks in millions and billions of suburban taxpayer dollars and we never see it again, period."
The Quitah From Wasilla ?? Shouldn't this be the kiss of death? Here batting average so far, .000
whatsamatter Sarah ... no carts to upset in Alaska? Good thng for the Democrats tho ...... stand up and cheer.
True story or a Saturday Night Live skit?
I am having great difficulty trying to come up with a reason that I would call on Palin for help ... for the life of me , I can't construct a scenario that wouldn't get censored ... and even that has rational alternatives ...
New Jersey is not that stupid. Palin needs to go back to Alaska and take a chill pill she will never win another election.
If you're going to lose, you may as well lose big.
What we need is to toss the reactionary mental midgets, the ones who play Katzenjammer Kids with the whole US.
Sounds like the kiss of death from a pit bull wearing lipstick to me.
She just got lost on her way to Alaska.
I always love the laughs that Palin brings to politics! Sometimes, she is funnier than Jon Stewart (although, just guessing, I doubt she means to be).
Like throwing a drowning man an anchor.
What does she know about New Jersey? Oh wait....yes, Sarah, I think you CAN see Portugal from the Jersey Shore.
This is the wildly backwards, Republican-Christian-Hillbilly reality we're living in. We're only as strong as our weakest link, and these fools are worthless.
You don't throw an anchor to a drowning man.
Sarah Palin has suddenly become Doris Day to Steve Lonegan's version of the Cary Grant; except the movie title is "That touch of stink". Thank you Steve and thank you Sarah for demonstrating the undeniable desperation of the Tea Party.
Yes exactly why does this know nothing, do nothing, be nothing coward and quitter matter to anything.
She does not live there and has never lived there. Why would her opinion be relevant to any voter in that state?
Was Sarah's introductory music "Taps"?
now if the nj dems can only get sarah palin to come out for chris christie.....
I have to recognize at least one of her statements has come true. She continues to look more and more like a pitbull with lipstick
Unfortunately the GOP is so out of touch that they think Palin campaigning for a candidate is a plus.
Who cares what she has to say about anything?
Booker is the big winner here!! Had Palin campaigned for his opponent from the start, Booker would be up 30 points..
everybody is so busy hating on a sort've better looking than whatever it is that the dems ever come out with to pay attention to the numerous unmentionable crimes of corruption and quote 'fake scandals" coming from the white house and buisines as usual on wall street.
no nothing to see here move along sheeple.