A Rally To Kick Off The Cory Booker Campaign For President in Newark
North Jersey Record
NEWARK – At a park in the heart of his adopted hometown, Cory Booker sought to rev up his supporters and reinvigorate his presidential campaign, which has yet to stand out from other Democrat hopefuls.
Earning a national profile during his time as Newark’s mayor, Booker returned to Saturday with a message: unity and love. Recalling his days as the city’s mayor from 2006 to 2013, and as a tenant rights attorney before that, Booker showcased his social justice mission and his record.
“Newark, Brick City, taught me about that love. It’s not feel-good, easy-going love. It’s a strong, courageous love. The kind of love that serves, the kind of love that sacrifices. The kind of love that is essential to achieving justice,” said Booker.
Officially, Booker announced his 2020 candidacy on Feb. 1 via Twitter and then met the the media on the steps of his Newark home later that day. But his “Justice for All” platform has failed to garner headlines. Booker is lagging in most polls with 3.2 percent of the early Democratic primary electorate, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent 2020 surveys. And he’s trailing in the race for campaign cash. The $5 million Booker said he collected in the two months since entering the 2020 primary is well below notable rivals like Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and newcomer Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.
Booker’s rally Saturday was the first stop on a planned “Justice for All” tour of key primary states. It had a block party vibe, with plenty of balloon animals, food trucks, and kids blowing giant bubbles, and performances by Newark Boys Chorus and Malcolm X Shabazz High School Marching Band. Booker’s team said the event drew more than 4,000 people.
Speakers painted the stories of the underserved – college students drowning in debt, workers trying to get by on minimum wage, those caught in cycles of addiction or incarceration, those living in fear of gun violence, those who cannot afford healthcare, immigrants and DREAMers with uncertain futures. Booker capped off his rally speech with his campaign theme, saying, “Together, America, we will rise.”
Despite the unity message, Booker did say Trump Administration policies were a threat to the marginalized who “cannot afford a politics of division that sacrifices progress for purity.”
“We can’t wait when powerful forces are turning their prejudice into policy and rolling back the rights that generations of Americans fought for and heroes died for,” Booker said. “We can’t wait when this administration is throwing children fleeing violence into cages, banning Muslims from entering the nation founded on religious liberty, and preventing brave transgender Americans from serving the country they love.”
The Rev. Dr. David Jefferson said Booker’s platform is a return to morality for America, in need of a candidate who runs “on record and not rhetoric” and “on substance, not sentiment.”
“Cory Booker knows we cannot achieve true justice for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities, that’s why he authorized the Environmental Justice Act and supports the Green New Deal,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, a first-term Democrat. “He knows the Superfund sites that mar our cities also hold them back from being places where diverse and thriving communities can rise. That’s why he’s lead the fight to hold corporate polluters accountable.”
First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy likened New Jersey’s struggles with those in other states.
“Whether it’s for clean water here in Newark, or in rural North Carolina, or to removing industrial pollution from the Passaic River or Louisiana’s cancer alley, this is who Cory Booker is,” she said.
Booker was introduced by his mother, Carolyn Booker, recalling her role in the Civil Rights movement and her family’s work as caregivers to her husband’s Parkinson’s disease.
“I have watched Cory fight for this community, I have watched Cory fight for this state, and I have watched Cory fight alongside Americans across the country who are fighting for a better live for themselves and their families,” Carolyn Booker said. “Cory will be the kind of president who doesn’t just lead people but will listen to the people.”
Among those who came to listen, many said Booker wasn’t their clear-cut top choice.
Booker’s message resonated with Courtney Bevilacqua. The Summit resident said his love and justice message is something she teaches her children, 6-year old Aiden and 3-year old Dempsey.
“To me he’s a very authentic politician, who shows his human side,” said Bevilacqua.
Saying Booker “isn’t your average politician,” Rosslin said he’s willing to live the experience of his constituents. “Otherwise, you can’t relate,” to them.
“He needs to focus on policy, not just attack,” said Tyler Meyer, a student living in New York City.
A fan of Booker’s for years, Claire Boudour said must “not be fake, or pander.”
Some came to be heard themselves.
A small group of activists holding Palestinian flags interrupted Booker with chants of “from Palestine to Mexico, borders have to go.”
Sabrina Ahmed of Whippany explained the protestors believed Booker wasn’t vocal enough in support of Palestine, decrying his acceptance of American Israel Public Affairs Committee donations.
When it comes down to it, said Shelia Witherspoon of Newark, Democrats need to come together.
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