In the biggest campaign fund-raiser yet on behalf of State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to New Jersey on Monday and praised Mr. Kean as someone with “the experience, the values and the vision to be a superb United States senator.”
But there was one problem: Mr. Kean was a no-show.
Actually, Mr. Kean did show up at the event, which was held at the offices of the IDT Corporation in downtown Newark. But he did not make it until 6:15, roughly 15 minutes after Mr. Cheney’s motorcade had left.
So what should have been a routine political story about a successful fund-raiser, netting close to $400,000, became one in which Mr. Kean was asked repeatedly whether he had deliberately avoided being photographed with the vice president, who is deeply unpopular in New Jersey.
Mr. Kean’s spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, said: “There was no concerted effort. It was two ships passing in the night.”
For his part, Mr. Kean said he had been in Trenton all day, voting on important bills, because “I would not miss votes in order to make a political event.” As soon as the Senate wrapped up, around 4 p.m., he traveled north “as quickly as I could.” But instead of taking the New Jersey Turnpike, like any regular commuter between Trenton and Newark, he and his driver chose Route 1, which is usually crawling with bumper-to-bumper traffic at that hour.
Mr. Kean said he did so because there were delays on the Turnpike in the morning. But at 6 p.m., there were no reported delays between Exit 7A, not far from Trenton, and the George Washington Bridge, according to the Turnpike’s Web site.
And Anton Peters, an executive producer at Shadow Traffic, said that Route 1 was relatively trouble-free on Monday afternoon, with the only significant problem a northbound accident near Linden that was cleared up by 2 p.m. “If he was going north, it wouldn’t have affected him,” Mr. Peters said.
In any event, by the time he arrived in Newark, Mr. Kean said, “I ended up running down the street” to make the event.
Kean later clarified that he wasn’t driving a car to the fund-raiser but “one of those Flintstone-type vehicles you propel with your feet” and that he was actually running down the street “blind-folded and in a potato sack.”