Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign Friday, invoking a message of economic populism and racial justice along with a veiled swipe at President Donald Trump’s leadership.
The 49-year-old former mayor of Newark, New Jersey. who joined a fast-growing field of hopefuls vying for a White House run, released a video and sent an email to supporters announcing his decision.
“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.
“It is not a matter of can we, it’s a matter of do we have the collective will, the American will? I believe we do. Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose. Together, America, we will rise.”
Booker becomes the second African-American to enter the 2020 race, after Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. His decision to announce his candidacy Feb. 1 — the first day of Black History Month — could be seen as a nod to the historic nature of his bid to become the nation’s second black president.
“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.
Booker kicked off his campaign by calling in to two radio shows with a largely African-American audience and an interview almost entirely in Spanish on Univision’s morning show, Despierta América.
“Folks are feeling left out, folks are feeling left behind…I’m running for president to change that,” Booker said on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.
He also spoke about mass incarceration and inequality, advocating for criminal justice, drug law reform and an end to marijuana “prohibition,” while pushing a message of unity and inclusion.
“It’s time for a more radical empathy in this country,” he said on the show.
Booker was elected to the Senate in 2013 and has earned a reputation as one of the body’s most outspoken members. His profile grew as he fiercely criticized Trump and his policies.