New Jersey Senator Cory Booker officially launched his presidential campaign on April 13 in Newark’s Military Park. The event in Military Park is part of his “Justice for All” campaign. It signaled the beginning of his first national tour, two weeks that will include stops in Georgia, Nevada and Iowa.
Senator Booker’s event in Newark certainly did not mark his first time visiting the city. Booker, the seven-year mayor of New Jersey’s most populous city, declared in front of his home in February his intention to run for the presidency.
The presidential candidate runs on a platform of justice, including environmental, criminal and economic justice. Booker, a member of the Senate since 2013, was one of 18 candidates who officially have declared they will be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020.
His efforts are lagging, though. The early polls thus far are not reflecting enthusiasm. Booker’s fundraising is also behind. His return to the place where he served as mayor for seven years, then, was an effort to obtain the support he has been lacking.
The event appeared as a block party more so than it did a political campaign event. Features for supporters had been face-painting stations, food trucks and animal balloon-makers. Such features indicated that it was intended for an age-range of attendees.
Despite the setbacks, Booker remains hopeful.
“Too many people believe the forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than the bonds that hold us together. I don’t believe that,” Booker asserted. “I believe we will achieve things that other people say are impossible. I believe we will make justice real for all.”
Although Booker included ideas he had shared previously, his talking points on April 13 had for the first time shared comprehensive details about them.
Included on Booker’s pledge had been giving all citizens the opportunity to earn a fair wage, forming a national paid family and medical leave program, affordable health care, and constructing a clean energy economy by holding polluters accountable.
Booker’s event featured novelties emulating carnival games. Representatives from every sector of New Jersey’s Democratic political class were also in attendance. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Gov. Phil Murphy were among the estimated 4,000-plus supporters.
The supporters gathered around Booker, hoping for an opportunity to talk with him.
He explained during the event that “Newark is a city that has always been impatient for justice.”
“Well, here in Newark, we refused to wait,” he said. “We didn’t just talk about the injustice of people not being able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables—we opened grocery stores in food deserts. We got people to invest here. We opened new businesses here, created thousands of new jobs here together.”
The April 13 event was quite different from Booker’s previous Newark campaign appearance, which was soon after he had declared his pursuit of the Presidency. Booker stood outside of his home in the cold February weather and answered reporters’ questions. Now he uses his hometown as a tool in his campaign to gain a stronger following.
Booker may have obtained a widespread early presidential state following, he struggles to stand out in the early polls and he has received modest first quarter fundraising numbers.
Booker hovers between 3 and 5 percent in his standing in the polls and has a modest fundraising amount, (currently $5 million). Booker’s aides are hopeful, mentioning they are investing energy into what is important just now; the campaign continues to construct strong organizing efforts in crucial states such as Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa.
“It’s a huge field, really early, and a lot of time on the clock,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy explained to reporters before the event began. “He’s putting the pieces in place as he should be right now, and I think the really good days are ahead of him.”
Booker mentioned in his remarks why his Presidency would differ from President Trump’s.
“Unlike this President, I won’t ignore or give license to white supremacy,” he said to a crowd that soon cheered. “We will no longer wait for America to stand up for justice around the world. We will strengthen our alliances and defend human rights, not coddle dictators or squander America’s moral authority.”
Some policies Booker hopes to implement are fully funding public schools, fighting for Medicare for all, passing comprehensive immigration reform and utilizing the federal government’s bargaining power to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.