Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Friday became the third person in his party to announce an official bid for the presidency in 2020 — and the declaration received mixed reactions, both criticism and praise, across the political sphere.
For months Booker had been expected to announce for 2020 — and his Friday news was accompanied by the launch of a new website and a tweet featuring a two-minute-long campaign video.
He also called for a sense of common purpose in his announcement.
“Cory was a fierce champion in the fight to stop Brett Kavanaugh from sitting on our highest court and has been a strong advocate for women every step of the way,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a tweet.
Booker has been laying the groundwork for his run for some time, such as visiting New Hampshire back in December. The state plays a key role in the elections; it’s the first one to hold a primary. Booker is planning to visit several more states in the coming months.
His aides have also confirmed he’s been hiring staffers in recent weeks for his emerging campaign.
“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty,’” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement provided to LifeZette.
“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.”
Booker skipped the setting up of an exploratory committee, unlike some of his rivals. And that field of opponents is already starting to look big and competitive. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) have all already announced their candidacies.
“Congratulations and welcome to the race to one of my closest friends,” Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is likely to announce her candidacy as well, said in response to the announcement. “I’ll be cheering you on — just, you know, not TOO hard.”
My soul belongs to God. I fear no man.
And I believe that anyone's individual capacity to denigrate will never be as strong as our collective power to elevate. https://t.co/YBEwRD9FjK
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 1, 2019
White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway was quick to question the candidacy after Booker made his announcement. She questioned why he would join the primary race now, considering all the other Democrats who have already announced. She also questioned what he’s accomplished that qualifies him for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“What is wrong with the candidates that are already in there?” Conway said during an interview Friday morning on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “What is [his] objection to Kamala Harris running, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, these others who have already announced, Tulsi Gabbard, maybe? If he were a Republican running against them, they immediately would call him a sexist for running against these women in the Democratic field.”
Booker gained a lot of attention in the latter half of last year as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was going through his confirmation process at the time; Booker later admitted to leaking confidential information against the nominee.
Republicans also mocked him for declaring himself to be “Spartacus” during the hearings.
“Tell Cory Booker if he’s really running for president because he wants a country ‘where parents can put food on the table, good-paying jobs w/ good benefits in every neighborhood,’ then he doesn’t have to bother,” former Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a tweet. “Trump is already doing that for him.”
Booker told the story of how his parents struggled to move the family into a predominantly white neighborhood.
He also talked about how he would eventually move into the low-income inner city neighborhood of Newark’s Central Ward as an adult. He still continues to live there to this day.
“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,” Booker said in the video.
He also made his announcement on the first day of Black History Month. Kamala Harris, his primary opponent, jumped into the race two weeks earlier, on Martin Luther King Day. The two African-American senators are expected to battle for the influential black vote in the Democratic primaries.