Booker in N.H.: America is ‘in a moral moment’

  • New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker exits the stage after speaking at a get out the vote event hosted by the NH Young Democrats at the University of New Hampshire in Durham on Sunday. AP

For the Monitor 
Published: 10/28/2018 6:12:39 PM

A day after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey declared Sunday during a visit with New Hampshire Democrats that “we are in a moral moment in America.”

Booker told a crowd of young Democratic activists at the University of New Hampshire in Durham that what worries him in moments like these is that “we pause and express grief and then we move on as if this is normal.” But he emphasized: “This is not normal. This is not who we are.”

Eleven congregants were killed in the massacre, which is being described as one of the deadliest against the Jewish community in this country.

The high profile senator from New Jersey was one of a large group of prominent Democratic leaders that was sent pipe bombs this past week through the mail, including former President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the news channel CNN. All of the explosive devices were intercepted and no one was injured.

“I was protected by vigilant first responders that stopped the package before it even came to New Jersey,” Booker said.

And he praised them for “the courageousness of individuals who put their lives on the line every single day to protect Americans.”

While he refrained from directly criticizing President Donald Trump for adding to the toxic political climate that may have contributed to the pipe bomb attacks and Saturday’s shooting, he appeared to indirectly target the president for his divisive rhetoric on Twitter and at his political rallies.

“In general we have to understand that words matter and that we all need to be mindful of what we’re saying,” Booker told reporters.

“Since 9/11 the majority of our terrorist attacks have been rightwing groups and the majority of those have been white supremacist groups, people that are peddling hate against blacks or Jews or other minorities. It’s so antithetical to who we are,” Booker said. “And a lot of them are using the rhetoric of the leaders in this country in their propaganda.”

Booker’s jam-packed Sunday swing through New Hampshire – to help Democratic candidates running in next month’s election – was his first visit in more than two years to the state the holds the first primary in the race for the White House. And it comes after he made stops this month and in August in Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, the other early voting states in the primary and caucus calendar.

The visits are sparking more speculation that Booker’s gearing up towards a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. As for his own aspirations, he demurred.

“I’m really so obsessed and focused on the midterms, I’m literally putting thousands of miles on the road, so I’m not even focusing on that,” he said.

Such a decision will come after the Nov. 6 midterms, he said.

“I’m going to run through the tape,” he said. “And the first thing I’m going to do is rest. A day off on the seventh, and then start thinking about 2020.”

If he does run for the White House, Booker could be part of a field of 20 or more presidential candidates that could possibly include former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Those three politicians are significantly older than Booker, who turns 50 next year.

Age won't be the only benchmark for the next nominee, he said.

“We are all going to be hungry for somebody that has got the right message, got the right values, and has got the right policies,” he said. “I want to see a great victory in 2020 and I can say that clearly. I can’t predict who the right person is.”

Booker was interviewed after headlining a get-out-the-vote event organized by the New Hampshire Young Democrats. He was joined by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly, First Congressional District nominee Chris Pappas, as well as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

NH Young Democrats president Lucas Meyer said Booker’s visit will energize his party.

“We’re doing everything we can to excite the youth vote in New Hampshire,” Meyer said. “He’s somebody who within our party is one of our most effective and inspirational messengers.”

The senator then headed to the state Democratic Party’s Portsmouth campaign office to help kick off a canvas. Later, Booker teamed up with Second Congressional District Rep. Ann Kuster at a get-out-the-vote rally at Dartmouth College in Hanover.

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