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."
democrats should thank god for sarah palin.
And we do!
Love the title of the article but I wish it said she jumped into the ocean never to be seen again.
How do yo know your campaign is faulty, and faltering?
You call in Sarah Palin to help it.
I was on the fence about this election.
Thanks Sarah, you sealed it for me.
My vote goes to Booker.
When the best support you can drum up, is from an imbecilic quitter from nowheresville USA, you don't get my vote
Isn't this supposed to be the last thing you do when you're down in the polls? Isn't there a page in the things not to do in politics about how McCain's campaign imploded after he brought on Sara Palin?
Lonegan must be really desperate to call on Palin?? No sane person listens to what this bimbo says anymore.
Why CNN do you keep giving this "woman" a place before the camera?
this is NJ.. and she thinks her presence there will help the tea clown running in that race?
Sarah has become a side show to prop up when you're desperate for eyeballs.
Get your popcorn out!! Another clown show will be starting!
If Booker was not a shoe-in before, he is now. Palin for the most part does more damage than good particularly in a blue state. With the GOP's stand on most everything is the main reason this man will loose.How can he say things and expect people would vote for him over Booker with the results on national polls.
Sarah Palin's kiss of death. Booker will win now!
Palin is nothing but toxic–why is anyone still considering her as having any use to them (well, except for Democrats)?
The deranged preaching to the already duped.
Something tells me Lonegan didn't get the memo, the Tea Party is losing it's appeal. The only people who are going to listen to Palin are on the fringe, they won't get you elected.
Palin is a communist. She bailed on her State as a sitting govenor. Now she wants to try it again. ( really ). She has no Idea what she says. She belongs to that Wackado Al quiada Terrorist group know as the Tea Party. These people are not Americans they are Terrorist. Ted Cruz Another mind trip retard.
When I think of New Jersey politics, , the FIRST name that pops into my head is Sarah Palin.
The quitter Mayor of Alaska? To help turn around a campaign? LOL
I saw a debate on TV between Lonegan and Booker. At that point I didn't know anything about Lonegan, but one word summed up my first impression. Major A-hole! The most unlikable candidate I have seen in a long time. Bringing Palin in just confirmed my impression. A right wing nut job trying to take us back 200 years.
Oh, that's gonna help.
I was not planning to vote, I dont particular like Booker and Lonegan seemed too radical for me with his social stances.
However Palin's arrival assured I will make to the poll and vote Booker in.
Why would someone from NJ care what some quitter from Alaska has to say? Quite frankly, I don't know how she got as far as she did. She must be a lot smarter than she sounds.
Sarah Palin is not popular in NJ or much of the Northeast. Half crazy & half stupid. She is an asset to Corey's side.
Keep talking Sarah.
Good luck with that!
Had I known, I would have been there to throw PIE in her face. STAY OUT OF MY STATE, PALIN, AND TAKE YOUR TEA PARTY ANARCHISTS WITH YOU ! ! !
I have a great place where Tea Party Anarchists and the Right Wing Conservatives can move to: SOMALIA ! Think about it – No Government, No Taxes, and you can keep all the guns you want! Neo-Con HEAVEN !!!! Please GO QUICK – before you ruin OUR country.