Feb. 1, 2019 - Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Announces Candidacy

• Feb. 1 marks the start of Black History Month.
• Booker's campaign released 2m26s video, launched website.
• After sending out the video, Booker did radio interviews with the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Univision’s Despierta America and Joe Madison: The Black Eagle on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel, followed by his first television interview on ABC’s The View.
• In the afternoon Booker held a press conference in his Newark neighborhood.

In America, we have a common pain.

But what we're lacking is a sense of common purpose.

What's up!

I grew up knowing that the only way we can make change is when people come together.

When I was a baby, my parents tried to move us into a neighborhood with great public schools, but realtors wouldn't sell us a home because of the color of our skin.

A group of white lawyers who had watched the courage of civil rights activists were inspired to help black families in their own community, including mine.

And they changed the course of my entire life.

Because in America, courage is contagious.

My Dad told me "Boy, never forget where you came from or how many people had to sacrifice to get you where you are."

So over 20 years ago, I moved into the central ward of Newark to fight slumlords and help families stay in their homes.

I still live there today and I'm the only Senator who goes home to a low-income, inner-city community, the first community that took a chance on me.

We are better when we help each other.

The history of our nation is defined by collective action, by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists, of those born here and those that chose America as home, of those that took up arms to defend our country and those who liked arms to challenge and change it.

I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind, where parents can put food on the table, where there are good paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood, where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins, where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame.

It is not a matter of can we; it's a matter of do we have the collective will, the American will?

I believe we do.

Together, we will channel our common pain, back into our common purpose.

Together, America, we will rise.

I'm Cory Booker and I'm running for President of the United State of America.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Press Conference on Announcement of Candidacy
Newark, NJ
Feb. 1, 2019

[FOX News Video]


Good afternoon, everyone.  I'm really excited that you all are here in Newark, NJ, perhaps the greatest comeback story for any American city right now, is proud to have you on what it amounts to my front lawn.  But in many ways, it's right up the street that my career started in politics.  It was a bunch of tenant leaders who were perhaps I always say, I got my B.A. from Stanford, but my Ph.D. on the streets of Newark.

It was a bunch of tenant leaders that pushed me into running for office, because they really believed that was the best way to make a difference in this neighborhood.  I've long since believed that life is about purpose and not position, and I've tried to stay true to the purpose that brought me into politics in the first place.  That's why if you're in my office in Washington, its a map of this neighborhood that sits behind me in my desk to focus on the folks who first took a chance on me and put me into the game.

And what my neighbors are concerned with, and I've heard all around the country, is that people in America are losing faith that this nation will work for them.  They're beginning to believe that too many folks are going to get left out or left behind; they're beginning to believe that the forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than the forces that bond us together as a people, as a country.

I'm running for president because I want to address these issues.  We are a nation, the story of who we are, everybody who's gathered on my front walk here, we are all here because Americans from different backgrounds, different races, different religions, even different political parties stood together, worked together, fought together to make this country stand for something.  What makes us unique and different is that we have folks from all over the planet Earth, from Eastern Europe to Asia, from Western Europe to Africa, whose DNA is now on this soil.  And by us working together we did things that other people thought were impossible.

My parents' generation knew that if we came together, blacks and whites, Christians and Jews, we coud upend Jim Crow.  We used to be a people that could point in the sky and look at the moon and change it from a dream to it to a destiny.  There's no Republican or Democratic way to get there.  You definitely don't get there by fighting each other, beating each other down, dividing people against themselves.  We did those things because found our common ground.

Now this is not easy.  The tough work of building a great community or what King called the beloved community, it's hard to do that.  But it's about time we get to the hard work of building this nation to be who we want us to be—our best values our best ideals, the best of who we are.

We need leadership in this country that understands what patriotism means, and patriotism is love of country and you can't love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women.  It doesn't mean we're always going to agree or some days always like each other, but we've got to extend each other grace, less judgment and more hard work to find common ground to do the things that other people on the planet Earth don't think we can do.

We're a nation that leads.  We've got to get back to doing that together.  So I'm happy to answer any questions you all want, but I'm grateful, seriously grateful, to have you all in Newark.  For those of you who only pass through our airport, take some time in the downtown and see the new buildings we built, hotels, go up the street to see the new supermarket we put in place, see the schools that are now ranked, ranked us as the number one city in America for beat-the-odds schools, high-poverty, high-performance; we're doing great things.

Reporter: Senator.
Booker: My old friend.
Reporter: You never invited me to your house.
Booker: (laughs) And after this I'm going to tell you to get off my stairs.  Get off my lawn.
Reporter: Most of the Democrats I've talked to are skeptical about your message of love.  They say that man cannot live on love alone and they wonder if you're ready to take on a hard nosed Donald Trump?
Booker: Well I called on Cruz first because when I was mayor he gave me my most difficult questions.  I start, start with the hardest first.

Look. [long pause]. You know love ain't easy, and our history in this country, some of the toughest, most heroic people that I admire, whose pictures hang in my office, whose statues are in the Capitol—they're folks that took on armed hate, billy clubs and dogs and fire hoses, with unarmed love and they took down Jim Crow.  They're folks like a great New Jerseyian and Alice Paul, who loved this country so much she was willing to demand that it live up to its promise.  She was the first person ever arrested in front of the White House because she refused to let people in power undermine the power of the people, the rights of women.

The people I admire are the people that lead by calling out the best of who we are and not the worst.  So I'm running for president because I believe in us; I believe in these values.  I'm going to put them before the American people.  Hey, and if that's not what they want then I won't be the next president of the United States.  But I know my country, I know the goodness and the decency across this land; I've experienced it.  My family I'm in New Jersey because of that decency of white families who would not let my parents be denied housing because of the color of their skin.  That's the kind of patriotism, that's the kind of love my family's experienced.  I know it exists in our country, I believe in it and I'm putting my faith in that message, that heart and that reality in America.

Reporter: Senator, a lot of people in New Jersey are going to sit and look at this and say, you know, we had another guy who ran for president for years ago.  He spent a lot of times not doing his job. how do you convince people that you can run a campaign and yet not make the same mistakes that Chris Christie did.

Booker: Look.  The voters in New Jersey put their faith in me and I will never, ever let them down. I'm going to continue to be an active force in the Senate and, at a time of cynicism in Washington—.  Heck, if you just look at the last Congress, at a time that people don't believe Washington can get big things done, in the last Congress alone, I was able to work across the aisle with my partners and get big pieces of legislation done.

You know, the system of mass incarceration in this nation is a shame to a nation that is land of the free, and I with working with others passed the first bill that finally takes a real crack at ending mass incarceration.  Even something that I realized, that capital in this country is lazy, doesn't invest.  In fact, about five cities have the overwhelming majority of investment capital going there.  I passed, I wrote legislation with a Republican across the aisle that now is law and is going to get
hundreds of billions of dollars finally invested into the lowest income areas, creating many, many jobs.  So I know I can do my job as a senator.  I've been showing that, and I also know that I can answer the call of what I believe my country is right now, which is leadership that's going to bring us together and not try to rip us apart.

Reporter: Are you going to run for Senate and president as you're allowed to do in New Jersey now.

Booker: Well, I'm grateful that Jerseyans pulled together to make sure that that that possibility is there, but my focus is running for president of the United States, and I will be running hard and going directly to the people, hand to hand, shaking hands, knocking on doors—in many ways the way I started my career when I was running for city council and going out to the people and I intend to be the next president of the United States.

Yes sir.

Reporter: Three quick questions.

Booker:  Three quick questions?  You're greedy guy.  Even, even Cruz over here used to badger me in the day...

Reporter: ...will you do away with private health care?

Booker: Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered healthcare still have private healthcare.  So no.

Reporter: And what will you do about the filibuster so you can maybe move some of these issues that you want...?

Booker: The filibuster is a decision that's made in the Senate.  My colleagues and I, everybody I've talked to, believe that the legislative filibuster should stay there and I will personally resist efforts to get rid of them.

Reporter: And lastly, if President Trump attacks you on your history with banks and hedge funds,
how will you respond to that?

Booker: You know, anybody who knows my history knows that my history is standing up for people that are often being hurt by bad actors.  I lived in Newark during the mortgage crisis.  I saw the predatory loans, where  people were luring people into homes who had no job and no income.  And they gave them cash at closing.  My record as a mayor, my record as a senator is fighting those interests are trying to screw people. And when it comes to defending folk, I will be ferocious.

Yes in the back.

Reporter: Senator, following up on that, you know that there are some who criticize you as being too corporate among those on the [inaud.].  I know you're not taking corporate PAC money, but have you changed your opinion about corporate Americaa?

Booker: Let's be clear.  Whatever you do, when you're in elected office, you're going to get criticized.  You know, when I was, before I got into elected office, when I help somebody cross the street people said that was a really nice guy.  Now, when I help somebody across the street, there's somebody standing back and saying, oh, he's just trying to get a vote.  There's a lot of understandable cynicism out there.  And I feel like the best way to do that is with your actions.

I believe we are our great nation because we have stuck up for each other.  And we've got to stop bad actors from taking advantage of people.  And it happens.  I see it in the changes have been made to to allow credit card companies, to in my opinion overcharge.  I fought overdraft fees as a senator.  I can go through the things I've done to hold people accountable, and I think we need a lot of change from our tax laws, making them more fair, to ending things like carried interest.  I'm going to continue being the person I've always been despitethe criticism.  In fact as my mom was  joking with me last night: son, if you're not being criticized, you're probably really not doing that much.


Reporter: Thank you.  I've got two quick questions for you.  The RNC just released a statement on your candidacy.  They said you're a quote, political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an 'emblem of poverty.'  I wanted to see what your reaction to that.

Booker: Well again, this is what we have, is people for political purposes trying to not talk about what they're for but talk about what they're against.  Newarkers, and I think people in cities all across America, are tired of people that are putting down our urban spaces, making, trying to make them into jokes, ridiculing them, demeaning and degrading them.  My time here in Newark during the worst economy of my lifetime—we did things that other people thought were impossible to do.

We ushered in Newark's biggest economic development period in 60 years, building our first new
office towers and our first new hotels, putting Newarkers to work constructing them and Newarkers to work in those buildings.  We brought supermarkets to food deserts, we improved our public schools to a level now—in fact if you're a black kid in Newark, which is a majority of our schools, your chances of going to a high performing school that beats the suburbs went up 300%. 

And perhaps the best thing to say to anybody who wants to criticize my leadership in Newark, when I left Newark for the first time in 60 years our population was growing again.  People were moving here because of our schools, moving here because of our arts and entertainment, moving here because they weren't interested in tearing down this city; they wanted to be a part of the city's rising.

Yeah, go ahead.

Reporter: Howard Schultz has just expressed interest in running as an independent.  He's gotten a lot of criticism, particularly from Democrats who say he'd be helping Donald Trump.  What's your reaction; are you glad...?

Booker: You know anything you do there's going to be competition.  Bring it. I believe in the American people.  I think they're going to look to the Democratic Party for leadership.  I believe that we are going to consolidate in this country against the politics of hate, politics of division.  I think that people are tired of the demeaning and are ready for some redeeming to reclaim ideals of civic grace and decency.  So I'm going to run a kind of campaign where I'm not focused on who else is in the race.  When I was a high hurdler in Old Tappan high school, my coach told me don't look to the right, look to the left; run your race.  And that's what I tend to do.

Reporter: [inaud.]

Booker (responds in Spanish):  Ah, quiero...  Muchas gracias a la comunidad latina por que en mi campagna en este ciudad sin la comunidad latina no tuve una victoria grande.  En el futuro este un pais por todo, este un país con fe ... por todo.  So con la comunidad latina, parte de la comunidad americana vamos a tener una victoria grande, no por un candidato pero por nuestro país.

Los inmigrates, este es un país de inmigrantes, este un país es más fuerte por que tenemos personas en nuestro país de alrededor del mundo.  Necesitamos inmigración and voy a luchar para cada persona que estan en nuestro país.

I'm going to go way back here to the dude with the hat behind the TMZ camera.  But I am literally not looking forward to him asking me a question.  Go ahead.

Reporter: [inaud.]

Booker: Well, first and foremost, our teachers are ridiculously underpaid in America.  If you just want to look at this in an economic analysis, they are the profession that contributes the most to a thriving American economy, and we cannot continue to devalue what is one of the greatest professions in our country, which is public school teachers.

Booker (waving to someone): ¡Hermana!  Hola ¿cómo esta?  ¡A la victoria!

I'm sorry about that.

I'm sorry, but this is really important.  I'm going to run the boldest pro public school teacher campaign there is, because it's how I governed when I was mayor of the city of Newark.  We fought to get PE [?public education] teachers here in the city increased pay, increased respect, better access to technology.  And by the way, when we talk about schools, it's not just talk about being there for teachers, but also for counselors.  Our schools do not have enough counselors.  Mental health professionals for schools need more supportive environments. 

Our schools should be more than just schools, but cathedrals of learning where we support our children.  I believe in public education.  I'm a product of public education, and as a senator, I've invested my time and effort working with teachers groups around this country.  I'm Cory Booker and I ran for senate and got the endorsement of our state's teachers unions.  I'm proud of my record; it's not... anything I've needed to defend.  I believe that we shouldn't have one size fits all education.  Local leaders should make decisions about what works best for them.  And if you're a kid in Newark, what we created double digit increases in our graduation rates and reading and math. And it was done by who?  By public school teachers.

I can't believe we live in a country, and this is the absurdity of it all, where a  25-year old stockbroker pays less in a percentage of their income in taxes or gets better tax breaks than a 50-year old teacher who reaches in their pocket to pay for food or or sanitary products or clothing for their kids.  We need to start having a tax code in this country that reflects our values as a people.  Everybody understands that we can't be a leading nation without leading the world in education, and we need to get back to that.  Public education.

I'm going to go to the person to back jumping up and down.

Reporter: Antoine.
Booker: Oh, Antoine, how you doing man? I can't see you underneath all that hattage.
Reporter: [inaud.]
Booker: Well, first of all, I just want everybody to know, I miss Obama.  And I miss her husband too.
Look I've had conversations with Obama in the past.  God bless him.  And I'm really grateful for the kind of leadership he provided this country. I got to— in fact one of the first things I did on the day I was sworn in by Joe Biden as a United States Senator was he invited me to the Oval Office and we sat and had a heart to heart, and he gave me some of the best advice I could get to become a senator.  In fact that day, the best advice I got in my early days rather, was from John McCain and from President Barack Obama about what it meant to be a statesperson, to put patriotism before petty personal attacks.  So we've been blessed to have great leaders in this country, especially our ancestors who we should be honoring now.

There are no statues built to haters; there are no statues—  Well, I shouldn't say that.  There's some stat— maybe some statues unfortunately, there are.  But we honor people at their funerals, who we've seen of recent for their grace and for their decency and for their selfless service. And we need to get back to elevating those kind of folks. And they're not always people with titles.  As I learned here in Newark, the greatest leaders I've ever met aren't in White Houses or Senates or
Congresses or or what have you, there people in communities, neighbors who are strong on blocks
tenant leaders who hold folks together.  The greatness of this country lies in our ability to be there for each other, to extend grace and kindness, and we need to start having a better celebration of those values in our nation. especially and hopefully reflected in the people we elect to our highest offices.

Let's go one more.  One last question. Yes, sir.

Reporter: Do you believe that Donald Trump is racist?

Booker: I don't know that I don't know the heart of anybody.  I'll leave that to the Lord.  I know there are a lot of people who profess the ideology of white supremacy that use his words and I believe his failure to condemn bigotry and racism, I believe that when he makes comments about
African countries, when he challenges and demeans the ability of a federal judge to do their job because of their ancestry, that's bigoted language, and there's no way around that.

But I just want everybody to know I'm, I'm, I'm going to run a race about not who I'm against or what I'm against, but who I'm for and what I'm for.  I'm not looking even to to simplistically to beat Republicans.  No I'm looking to unite Americans in this race.  Because I believe we have more in common than divides us; I believe that this reflective partisanship is undermining our ability to find common ground and get common sense things done.  We right now agree on enough to make big changes in America, to drive down health care costs, to drive up student achievement, to fix our infrastructure, to provide better education, to make us safer and stronger and more prosperity— more prosperous.

And so I'm really excited over the coming months to put my ideas before the American people and I know there, I have confidence in them. But the other thing I'm going to be trying to do over these next few months is to just appeal to what I know is the goodness and the decency of Americans, and we've got to stop the trash talking, Twitter trolling, tearing folks down. This is a time for all of us to think about our role in putting the indivisible back in this one nation under God.

Reporters: [inaud.]

Booker: What's that? I definitely can.  And I'm gonna let this be the last question.  I'm sorry.  And then I'll then I'll go up.  But this is really important.  Bringing people together means we should be uncompromising in talking about justice and holding people accountable.

I really worry that right now we have a country that has such apalling levels of injustice.  Right now, there are over 1000 jurisdictions in America, where kids have more than twice the blood lead levels than Flint, Michigan.  Here in Newark, down in Camden, kids are drinking out of bottled water, because of the lead in their pipes.  We have a nation where there's hundreds of places where it seems to be easier to find unleaded gasoline than unleaded water.  And a lot of this is not about pointing fingers; we all have to start taking responsibility because it seems like we're more eager to do something like giving tax cuts to corporations that weren't even asking for the level of tax cuts we gave, as opposed to investing in the infrastructure that would keep our children safe and strong. 

The most valuable natural resource this country has is not oil or gas or coal—it's the genius of our children.  If we're going to compete in a 21st century knowledge-based economy, we should all be morally outraged, outraged at so many of our children's minds be addled by lead levels that that should tear at the heart of all of us.

And so I— this is what got me into politics.  When I when I started out, the central ward of Newark was having a lead crisis because of lead paint at that time.  But even as we stand here right now we have Superfund sites that are that are within just a few miles of where we stand.  And we now know from Princeton data that children being born around Superfund sites, these are the highly toxic sites in our country, have 20% or significantly higher rates of autism, significantly higher rates of birth defects.  And what's happening with these toxic Superfund sites in our country because
of literally Reagan and Mitch McConnell.  Mitch McConnell voted for it, Reagan reauthorized a small tax on the most polluting companies, but yet in this era of people saying that we don't want any new taxes, those, those those small taxes have lapsed.  I pushed for them in the Senate since I got there, and what's happened, the Superfund sites around this country—we've seen more of them; they've actually increased, putting our children at risk. 

I'm sorry, it's easy to say I love America, but love is not a word; it is action, it is sacrifice, it is work. And if we're allowing our children to fall prey to lead or toxic sites with this rampant environmental justice that we see from the black belt of the South to the to the Great Lakes area, it casts a shadow over all of us. 

And so we need to come together now.  Enough.  Enough of this politics that we're just tearing each other down; that seems to be the end unto itself.  We have a greater calling than that—to elevate our children, to take care of the elderly, be there for each other.  That's when we are a great nation.  That's when we do things that other people say that can't be done.  And that's what my presidential campaign will be about.  And if this country sees fit to elect me president of the United States, that's what my leadership will be about.

Thank you, everyone.
# # #

Republican National Committee

“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty.’ Even the liberal base thinks he’s a disingenuous self-promoter, and his embrace of policies like higher taxes, single-payer health care, and government-guaranteed jobs make him totally out-of-touch with most Americans.” – RNC Spokesman Michael Ahrens

RNC Research Briefing
 [Top Takeaways]


Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) Is Running For President Despite A Failed Record As Mayor Of Newark And Senator Of New Jersey

  • Booker has chosen Newark for his presidential campaign headquarters, a city he has used “as a steppingstone” since moving there from an affluent suburb to run for city council in 1998.
  • While Mayor of Newark, Booker was often criticized by his own party for not being focused on the “day-to-day” governing and was better suited for “speechmaking” than “governing.”
  • Six years after vowing to make Newark a “model of urban transformation,” Booker’s Newark remains an “emblem of poverty,” and residents were stuck with a city “plagued by self-dealing and mismanagement.”
  • In 2010, while Booker was mayor, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pledged a $100 million matching gift to improve Newark’s education system, and reports now suggest the city “wasted” the money, spending over $20 million on politically connected consulting firms and generous union contracts. 
  • In 2011, Booker’s own Deputy Mayor, Ron Salahuddin, was charged and convicted on conspiracy charges to support a pay-to-play scheme involving city contract kickbacks to supporters of Booker’s nonprofit Newark Now, which “acted as a clearinghouse for lucrative construction contracts in exchange for donations.”

Spartacus has entered the arena! Here’s just some of what you need to know about 2020 Democrat Cory Booker:

1. The New York Times, 12/13/12; Politico, 8/25/13

2. Townhall, 1/24/19; Investors, 5/2/18; Washington Examiner, 7/17/18

3. The New Yorker, 5/19/14

4. New York Post, 9/18/11

5. Ask anyone with eyes and ears.

6. The Week, 8/3/17; Vox, 6/16/16, The New York Times, 5/9/11