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Sen. Frank Lautenberg, From Hottest to Coolest

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who relished his title of "hottest senator" a few years ago in a zany online poll ranking the sex appeal of senators, says he has a new distinction: "I'm the coolest senator."

So cool, in fact, he says, that just a few weeks ago he "stood for two and a-half hours at a Bon Jovi concert" at the brand new sports arena in Newark. The senator, who spoke to us off the Senate floor Friday, went to the concert with his wife's grown children, who wouldn't let their octogenarian stepfather sit down. "I was told not to sit down, I was part of the crowd," the senator said.

We have to admit, it was kind of hard to imagine Lautenberg, 83, lost in a sea of pop-metal heads with mullets and acid-washed jeans rocking out and maybe even singing along to "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Livin' On a Prayer." But he seemed to think it was perfectly normal.

"I like Bon Jovi," Lautenberg said, looking convincingly cool. "I happen to know him on a somewhat personal basis - he's a wonderful person."

And Bon Jovi, a New Jersey native, apparently thinks Lautenberg is wonderful, too. The rock star's wife, Dorothea, contributed $2,000 to the senator's re-election campaign in March of this year. (She donated using the Bon Jovis' real name, which is Bongiovi.)

Earlier this week, Lautenberg was hanging out on Capitol Hill with "Little Steven" Van Zandt, guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, former actor on HBO's "The Sopranos" and host of the wildly popular sydnicated radio show, "Little Steven's Underground Garage." Further proving just how cool a senator he really is, Lautenberg pulled out his iPhone and used the iCamera feature to have photos taken of he and Little Stevie - and he actually knew how to use the thing.

Lautenberg's hipster rock-and-roll image might make it tough for New Jersey Republicans, who have been playing the age card in their quest to unseat him. Lautenberg is hoping to trump them with the cool card.

And... stay tuned... there could be a Bon Jovi concert fundraiser for Lautenberg '08 in the offing...

By Eric Pianin  |  November 16, 2007; 1:10 PM ET
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