Cory Booker: You Beat ‘Demagogues’ Like Bull Connor, Trump with Compassion

Sunday on ABC’s “The Week,” 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the way to beat “demagogues” like President Donald Trump and segregationist Bull Connor is by reigniting “senses of civic grace.”

Partial transcript as follows:

KARL: So you’re not going to take on your fellow Democrats? I mean, I hear a reluctance to engage, to criticize.

BOOKER: I can’t campaign in a divisive way. I always say you can’t campaign wrong and think you’re going to govern right. I’m governing to unite this country again, to reignite senses of civic grace, a more courageous empathy for one another, so that we can deal with the persistent injustices in our nation.

KARL: And I’ve heard you say the same thing about Trump. You say you don’t want to fight fire with fire. But there was a headline in Politico quoting a local Iowa Democrat leader, saying, ‘the Democratic base is angry as hell, Cory Booker’s message of love falls flat.’ Democrats in this country are angry and they’re angry at President Trump. Is your kind of like nice guy approach really in tune with where the base of the party is right now?

BOOKER: Well, I think you mistake this in understanding that to be strong, you don’t have to be mean. To be tough, you don’t have to be cruel. We’re here in South Carolina, on a historically black college — historical black university, where some of the greatest strength was shown through the civil rights activism where people didn’t raise a fist. We didn’t beat Bull Connor by bringing bigger dogs and more powerful hoses. You beat demagogues by expanding the moral imagination of the country, bringing people together to overcome them. Look, I had a guy when I walked into a town hall put his arm around me and said, “I want you to punch Trump in the face.” And I looked at him and I just smiled and said, “hey man that’s a felony, and us black guys, we don’t get away with that that often.” The reality is, is Trump wants us to fight him on his turf, and his term. He wants to pull our party down. We will not succeed by showing the worst of who we are, but the best of who we are.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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