NEWARK – Speaking in the rejuvenated downtown where he served as mayor for seven years, Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.) is presented as an optimistic and hopeful counterpoint. to President Trump, who would remedy the political and social toxicity that, according to Booker, extends well beyond the White House.
Like most Democrats running for president, he mentioned Trump with moderation in his remarks during the coup de sending of his hometown – and this only as a symptom of a more widespread problem in American society.
"We can not wait for powerful forces to turn their prejudices into politics and cancel the rights for which generations of Americans have fought and died," he told a crowd of 4,100 people. "We can not wait for this administration to throw children fleeing violence into cages, forbid Muslims from entering the country based on religious freedom and prevent brave transgender Americans from serving the country they love.
"And we can not wait because many of the most serious challenges we face as a country were with us long before Donald Trump entered the White House."
Booker's choice to officially announce his campaign in Newark, with a speech echoing the lines of Martin Luther King Jr.'s writings on civil rights, was to provide a solid foundation for a candidate criticized by some for his inauthentic and campaign who struggled to survive in a sprawling and diverse democratic field.
Booker, the mayor of New Jersey's largest city, from 2006 to 2013, the year of his election to the US Senate, finds himself firmly in the midst of a presidential group of 18 members. Booker has raised more than $ 5 million in the past two months. announced his candidacy for the presidency, a figure that places him behind other high-profile aspirants such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Texas Congressman Beto O. Rourke, Senator Kamala D. Harris (California) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is expected to officially announce her bid on Sunday. O'Rourke and Sanders collected more points in the first 24 hours of their campaign than Booker did in more than 60 days.
The campaign of Booker and his supporters insist that he has enough support and money to not be considered unimportant, while dodging the intense scrutiny of runners.
In no time at all, his team is investing money and energy in the usual tasks that, he hopes, will pay off when the vote begins next year. places a campaign infrastructure in the early electoral states, while trying to instigate Booker into political and activist networks.
"We are not building this campaign to win a poll in April 2019. We are trying to win a primary in February 2020," said Thursday the director of the Booker campaign, Addisu Demissie. "We have 298 days before the caucuses of Iowa. It is a lot of time not only for us but for other campaigns to make a difference. We are trying to win an election, not a news cycle. "
Anton Gunn, political director of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign in South Carolina and a former state official, said Booker was in an ideal situation in a field the size of which is unprecedented.
"I think it's exactly where it needs to be," said Gunn, who did not approve a candidate. "If you're up front, you'll catch hell for everything you do. If you are at the back, you are about to be irrelevant. "
The South Carolina primary, termed critical by Demissie, is a particularly important test, as it is the first state in which a majority of Democratic voters are African-American, so Booker and Harris.
Booker's campaign caught two of the former campaign staff members of James E. Clyburn, the House Major. He has also held public meetings with politicians and pastors who will teach at public events in South Carolina and elsewhere.
"He has set up a leading team that apparently performs the first steps of an organizational plan and invests considerably in staff, manpower and relationships, even before entering the race, "said Mike McCauley, who worked for Obama and John F. Kerry's presidential campaigns. Like Gunn, McCauley has not supported a candidate in the 2020 race.
Booker also sought to form alliances in New Hampshire, the first state.
"He came to my house, sat down and really tried to thoroughly understand the issues that are of paramount importance to my nine southern New Hampshire cities," said Senator Jon Morgan, who sponsored Booker after the senator campaigned. 2018, told the Washington Post. "He will come to dinner with leaders and other stakeholders. He just wants to hear as many people as possible. This certainly includes lawmakers. "
This professional approach of the early states attests to Booker's realization that he is far from being the biggest celebrity of the 2020 race, despite a political career rich in dramatic moments.
In Newark, he has already met a house in flames to save a woman. He shoveled snow in the alleys of the elderly and has already sued a man who had assaulted a woman outside City Hall shouting "Not in my town". During his tenure, crime fell and businesses began to return to a city once dubbed the most dangerous nation.
Booker became a symbol of the city by establishing himself at Brick Towers, which was then a skyscraper in trouble. His most severe critics however reject him as someone who has used the reconstruction of a devastated city to build a national profile.
That's partly because he's been looking for Newark. Booker actually grew up in Harrington Park, an affluent suburb that his parents helped integrate. He was awarded a track and field scholarship at Stanford, spent two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in Great Britain and settled in a crime-filled section of Newark in his third year at Yale Law School.
The story of the struggle he tells is not his own but that of his parents. His father was an IBM executive who had a dog on his back when he tried to buy his house in the mostly white suburb where Booker grew up. His mother participated in sit-ins in Charlottesville and helped organize the march on Washington. As Booker often says, his parents often remind him that he had started his life on the third base.
In this campaign, Booker has also been criticized by Democrats preferring a more aggressive failure to Trump, who speaks with scathing criticism rather than, as Booker does, love and benevolence. Its strategists, however, say that the message of optimism that focuses on what the Democrats brought to the table shows how the party was able to take the House back in 2018 and how it will position itself better in 2020.
Jimmy Wright, a retired detective who was appointed Newark's General Inspector General by Booker, recalled that in Newark wonders about the motivations of a Ivy League graduate who likes to quote King and Maya Angelou who chose to settle in slums.
Wright answers a question about Booker's sincerity by taking out his phone. Each year, the former police officer arranges a meeting barbeque for people who previously lived at Brick Towers – and Booker donates $ 3,000 of his own money to help buy chicken and hot dogs, Wright said. posting a "Cory" message then let's hope I can be there.
"He has been scrambling for years," Wright told The Post. "If that's wrong, I'll take fake all day."
On Saturday, Booker said he was inspired by his years in Newark to develop a philosophy that "we are fighting from the heights to bring the country higher."
"Newark, Brick City, this community has taught me this love," he told the crowd. "It's not well-being, an easy love. It is a strong and courageous love. It's a provocative love. The kind of love that serves is the kind of love that sacrifices. The kind of love that is essential to get justice. "