Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) officially announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Friday, joining what is expected to be a crowded Democrat primary field.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 1, 2019
“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; where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame,” Booker said in his announcement video, with a veiled knock at President Donald Trump.
“It is not a matter of can we, it’s a matter of do we have the collective will, the American will?” he added. “I believe we do.”
Booker enters what is shaping up to be a crowded presidential primary, with three of his fellow Democrat senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — already either declared or exploring a run. However, he has spent months telegraphing his intentions to join the race, visiting the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to build connections with key powerbrokers.
Booker, a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, won a special Senate election in 2013 to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and then won a full Senate term in 2014. He will be able to run for a second full Senate term in 2020 while running for president, due to to a law that New Jersey’s governor signed in November.
Further, in his announcement video, Booker invoked the fight against slavery, while touting the importance of immigration.
“The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” he said.
Born in the nation’s capital but raised in New Jersey, Booker made a name for himself as Newark mayor by personally shoveling the snow of residents. He has $4.1 million left in his campaign coffers that could also be used to assist his presidential run. Rather than opening an exploratory committee to test the waters, Booker took the direct step to open a campaign seeking the Democrat nomination.
Booker drew mockery for his antics during last September’s confirmation process of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Striking a defiant tone, the Senate Judiciary Committee member threatened during a hearing to release a pre-cleared email regarding Kavanaugh’s views about racial profiling while an aide to President George W. Bush. The move could have placed him at risk of being expelled from the Senate.
Describing it an act of “civil disobedience,” the 2020 hopeful claimed reading the email to the committee “is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment.”
“I am right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” the New Jersey Democrat said, later adding that he was “knowingly violating the rules.”
Ultimately, the stunt had no impact on the confirmation battle. The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on a 50-48 vote.
President Trump has mocked the prospect of Booker launching a White House bid in 2020, evening telling West Virginia rally attendees in September that he “dreams” of the New Jersey Democrat running.
“How ’bout Cory Booker? Did you watch his performance?” the president said of Booker’s grandstanding during the Kavanaugh hearings. “He ran Newark, New Jersey, into the ground and now he wants to be president, right?”
“I dream of these people every night!” President Trump said of the 2020 Democrat hopeful.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.