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Public officials have an obligation to speak with the press

Corrections: This editorial incorrectly conflated Booker’s 2020 campaign with his official U.S. Senate office. The Service Academy Day event that the reporter attended was hosted by Senator Booker’s official U.S. Senate office and was in no way affiliated with his 2020 campaign. Also, due to uncertainty in scheduling, Booker’s team did provide the reporter with an exclusive statement from Booker for The Setonian that answered the questions she had.

When Senator Cory Booker announced that he was running for President of the United States earlier this year, I was very excited. I had admired Booker’s demeanor, charisma and overall sense of where the United States was headed for some time.

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Later that week, I received a text message from The Setonian’s former Editor-in-Chief, Gary Phillips, suggesting that I invite Booker to campus so that I could interview him, and even inquire about holding a forum for students to speak with him. I thought it was a great idea. I mean, let’s be honest: it would bring attention to Seton Hall, be a significant moment for The Setonian, give students the opportunity to connect with a presidential candidate and provide Senator Booker with a platform in which to speak with local, eligible, young voters. It was truly a win-win-win-win situation.

Unfortunately, I never received a response to my original email suggesting this from the Booker campaign. When I followed up, still nothing.

Last Saturday, Senator Booker was on campus for an event. I thought “Great, I can try again.” When I suggested to Senator Booker’s campaign that we organize a sit-down with Booker and myself, I was turned down. So, in true journalistic fashion, I woke up early on Saturday, put on a nice outfit and marched to campus to try my luck in person.

Between repeated efforts from his assistants to quite obviously, attempt to make me go away, and Senator Booker himself refusing to answer my questions, I decided to go home. I thought, “Well, that’s the story.”

When you decide to run for public office, you put yourself in a position where the press is going to need to talk with you. Especially considering the heightened tension of this election cycle and the political involvement of this generation, speaking with young reporters is vital. When you come to a college campus, expect to be approached by the student newspaper. Speaking with the press as an elected official, is part of your job.

It’s worth noting that Booker participated in an impromptu press gaggle after the event on Saturday ended.

Now, of course those that hold political office can do whatever they like – Booker and his campaign certainly did this past weekend – but perhaps his poll numbers wouldn’t be so low, and he wouldn’t be on the verge of dropping out of the presidential race, if he took the time to speak with local, eligible, young voters, like those who put together this newspaper.

The Voice is intended to best represent the collective opinion of The Editorial Board. It is written by The Setonian's Editor-in-Chief.

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