Senator Cory Booker answered questions from reporters outside his home in Newark, New Jersey as he kicked off his presidential bid.
On whether his campaign centered on a message of love would be tough enough to take on Donald Trump, he said, “Love ain’t easy.” Some of the most heroic figures in history, he added, are “folks that took on armed hate, bully club and dogs and fire hoses, with unarmed love, and they took down Jim Crow.”
Asked if he – like former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who made a failed run for president in 2016, would neglect his job duties during his run, he promised he would not. “The voters of New Jersey put their faith in me, and I will never ever let them down. I’m going to continue to be an active force in the Senate.”
In response to criticism he is too friendly to corporate interests, he cited his work to prohibit credit cards from overcharging customers. “Whatever you do when you’re in elected office, you’re going to get criticism,” he said.
As for criticism from the Republican National Committee that he had left Newark a crime-ridden mess, he said that was tantamount to “putting down our urban spaces” and “ridiculing, demeaning and degrading them.” He said that Newark under his watch built new office towers and hotels, opened supermarkets in food deserts, and improved the public schools. When he finished his term the city’s population was growing for the first time in decades, he said.
On his fervent support for charter schools, he said he intends to run “the boldest pro-public school teacher campaign there is,” and noted the state’s teachers union endorsed his Senate bid. He said he would not shy away from his positions. “I believe that we shouldn’t have one size fits all education,” he said.
Asked whether he believes Trump is a racist, Booker said, “I don’t know the heart of anybody. I’ll leave that to the Lord.” But he said Trump has failed “to condemn bigotry and racism,” and said of his comments calling African nations “shithole” countries and questioning a judge’s rulings because of his Hispanic heritage, “That’s bigoted language and there’s no way around that.”