Cory Booker on Principles & Values
Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator; 2020 presidential contender (withdrawn)
This election is about all of us standing together
We're only gonna tape this ad once, because I'm not a billionaire. I won't be on tonight's debate stage, but that's okay, because I'm gonna win this election anyway. This election isn't about who can spend the most money or who can sling the most mud --
it's about the people. It's about all of us, standing together, fighting together. Not just to beat Donald Trump, but to bring about the transformative change we need. Go to CoryBooker.com and join us. I'm Cory Booker and I approve this message.
Source: AdWatch: 30-second TV ad during Dec. Democrat primary debate
, Dec 19, 2019
Unlike Trump who demeans, will bring country together
This president uses his platform to demean, degrade, and divide this country in ways that are repugnant and appalling. I will bring this country together. We are a nation that achieves great things when we stand together and work together and fight
together. In my city, we have racial divides, we have geographic divides that go from wealth to people that are struggling. The success of my city was because we brought us together and did things that people said couldn't be done.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta
, Nov 20, 2019
Impeachment: We need a moral moment, not a political one
First of all, we must be fair. We are talking about ongoing proceedings to remove a sitting president for office. This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship. I understand the outrage that we all feel, but we have to conduct this process in
Source: October Democratic Primary debate on impeaching Trump
, Oct 15, 2019
Rugged individualism is fine, but we must work together
I believe in the values of rugged individualism and self-reliance but think about our history.
Rugged individualism didn't get us to the moon. It didn't beat the Nazis. It didn't map the human genome. It didn't beat Jim Crow. This election is not a
referendum on one guy in one office, it's a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other. Remind America that patriotism is love of country and you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow country men and women.
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate
, Oct 15, 2019
His faith taught love, so he fought his own homophobia
Q: In the 90's you wrote an article that detailed your journey to accept LGBTQ plus people as equals. It must have made people uncomfortable, can you talk about that?
Booker: I wanted to push people to understand the absurdities of homophobia, and
became a campus activist on those issues, and so I wrote this article to challenge people about their homophobia. It started as a teenager that saw growing up, an environment that was hostile to my peers who my faith taught me to love no matter what.
Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020
, Oct 10, 2019
Unity of purpose leads to transformative change
If you can put forth a vision that can unify people, then we can make transformative change. We created extraordinary unity in our community, and we did things that other people think-thought was impossible. At our best, we unify, we find common
cause and common purpose. The differences amongst us Democrats on the stage are not as great as the urgency for us to unite as a party, not just to beat Donald Trump, but to unite America in common cause and common purpose.
Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston
, Sep 12, 2019
It's not who's racist; it's what are you doing about it
This impotent simplicity of who is and who isn't a racist is really not the question. If we have racism in our country and we believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, what are you doing about that?
It's not enough to say "I'm not a racist." If racism exists, you need to be anti-racist. Same with anti-Semitism. I can't sit idly by if my Jewish brothers and sisters are facing that kind of violence and that kind of evil. We are all in this together.
Source: ABC This Week interview for 2019 Democratic primary
, Aug 11, 2019
Trump is acting as an authoritarian against the Constitution
Q: Your reaction to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appearance in front of Congress?
BOOKER: I've read the report. I've read the redacted versions of the report. We have something that is astonishing going on in the United States of the
America. We have a president that is not acting like the leader of the free world. He's acting like an authoritarian against the actual Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold. And so this is a difference with a lot of us on this debate stage.
I believe that we in the United States Congress should start impeachment proceedings immediately. He is now stonewalling Congress, not subjecting himself to the checks and balances. We swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. When we look back in
history at what happened when a president of the United States started acting more like an authoritarian leader than the leader of the free world, the question is, is what will we have done? And I believe the Congress should do its job.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate, on impeaching Trump
, Jul 31, 2019
Trump divides America; we need to heal and move forward
Donald Trump, from Charleston to Baltimore to even the border, is using the tired, old language of demagogues, of fear-mongers, of racists, to try to divide our country against itself. This election, the question is who are we as a people?
We have serious problems in America. We have deep wounds and deeply rooted challenges. We desperately need to heal as a nation and move forward. The call of this election is the call to unite in common cause and common purpose.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit)
, Jul 31, 2019
Understand our common purpose to address our common pain
The way we beat Donald Trump is not just focusing on him. It's when we start focusing on each other, and understanding that our common bonds, and our common purpose to address our common pain is what has saved us before. It's what's gonna save us now.
That is the kind of leader that I am going to be as President of the United States. Not just uniting the Democratic Party but making sure that we put more indivisible back into this one nation under God.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit)
, Jul 31, 2019
I've taken on bullies & won, by seeing common purpose
I've taken on bullies and beat them. I've taken on tough fights and we've won. And we win those fights not by showing the worst of who we are, by rising to who's best. Donald Trump wants us to fight him on his turf and his terms.
We will beat him, I will beat him by calling this country to a sense of common purpose again.
This is a referendum on him and getting rid of him, but it's also a referendum on us, who we are, and who we must be to each other. It's time we win this election.
And the way I'll govern is by showing the best of who we are because that's what this country needs and deserves.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami)
, Jun 26, 2019
Supports impeachment investigation necessary to get to truth
Q: What about impeachment?
BOOKER: It was a few weeks of seeing a president who wants to undermine constitutional intent and say that he's above the law. He has not been complying with subpoenas.
He has not been complying with legitimate congressional inquiries to continue the investigation that Mueller very specifically said it's on Congress to continue after he clearly indicated that there is potential corruption and obstruction of justice.
This president is not above the law. He should not be able to stop the checks and balances on the executive. I feel like we have a moral obligation now to investigate this president.
Impeachment proceedings will give us more legal leverage to get the information Congress needs to get to the bottom of what his administration has done while they're in office.
Source: CNN State of the Union 2019 interview on impeaching Trump
, Jun 2, 2019
Trump undermines constitutional intent: no one above the law
Q: After special counsel Robert Mueller spoke this week, you tweeted that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings immediately against President Trump. What made you change your thinking?
BOOKER: It was seeing a president who wants to undermine constitutional intent. He has not been complying with subpoenas. He has not been complying with legitimate congressional inquiries to continue the investigation that
Mueller very specifically said it's on Congress now to continue. This president is not above the law. He should not be able to stop the checks and balances on the executive.
And I feel like we have a moral obligation now to investigate this president.
Source: CNN "SOTU" 2019 interview on impeaching Trump
, Jun 2, 2019
We succeed by showing the best of who we are
To be strong, you don't have to be mean. To be tough, you don't have to be cruel. You beat demagogues by expanding the moral imagination of the country. A guy put his arm around me and said, "I want you to punch Trump in the face." I just smiled and
said, "hey man that's a felony, and us black guys, we don't get away with that that often." Trump wants us to fight him on his turf. He wants to pull our party down. We will not succeed by showing the worst of who we are, but the best of who we are.
Source: ABC This Week 2019 interview of presidential hopefuls
, May 12, 2019
Pragmatic Democrat: support private/faith-based initiatives
Booker called his political philosophy "pragmatic Democratic," looking to government but also private and faith-based initiatives to address poverty. Departing further from the standard playbook for urban Democrats,
Booker became an early champion of charter schools, arguing that the poorest children--like the richest--should be able to opt out of bad schools.
He later took the even more unconventional step of embracing vouchers for private schools for the same reason.
Booker was a valuable asset for the almost universally white, rich, Republican voucher movement, which along with the charter movement introduced him to some of his major political donors.
Source: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff, p. 11
, Aug 2, 2016
2010 stump speech: Work to perfect America
Booker delivered almost the same speech wherever he went, calling with a heartfelt emotion on his audiences--"we who freely drink from the wells of freedom we did not dig, who eat lavishly from banquet tables prepared for us by our ancestors"--
to work to a perfect America. "From Newark to Oakland, the children are calling to our conscience every day with the same five words: liberty and justice for all.
But we are failing in that," he said often. No matter how many times he repeated those phrases, he sounded passionate and spontaneous, and invariably he received standing ovations.
Never relying on notes, he seemed to erupt with eloquence and inspiration.
Source: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff, p. 86
, Aug 2, 2016
Even those with no religion are entitled to rights
Our nation was not founded because we all looked alike, or prayed alike, or descended from the same family tree. But our founders, in this, the oldest constitutional democracy, put forth on this earth the idea that all are created
equal; that we all have inalienable rights.
And upon this faithful foundation we built a great nation, and today, no matter who you are--rich or poor,
Asian or white, man or woman, gay or straight, any religion or none at all--you are entitled to the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Our founders put forth a Declaration of Independence, but also made a historic declaration of interdependence. They knew that if this country was to survive, we had to make an unusual and extraordinary commitment to one another.
Source: 2016 Democratic National Convention speech
, Jul 26, 2016
As we owe the past, we must pay for the future
My parents never stopped reminding me my brother and I that our blessings sprang from countless ordinary Americans who showed extraordinary acts of kindness, decency and love, people who struggled and sweat and bled for our rights, people who
paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we all enjoy. I was told that we can't pay those Americans back for their colossal acts of service, but we have an obligation to pay it forward to others through our service and our sacrifice.
Source: Speech at 2016 Democratic National Convention
, Jul 26, 2016
Raised in only black family in segregated neighborhood
My father began searching for homes and found that real estate agents kept directing him to the same few neighborhoods in Bergen County that had significant black populations. This injustice angered both of my parents, and they sought legal help.
They were referred to the Fair Housing Council. With the council involved, they began to see homes in predominantly white towns around Bergen County.
For the houses that my parents did like, they would be told that the homes had already been sold.
So the Fair Housing Council decided to begin to send out white "test couples" to see if indeed the homes were sold or off the market. They weren't.
[Their lawyer], having been part of sting operations like this before, informed the real
estate agent that he was in violation of NJ state law and his real estate license was at risk. The Bookers, he explained, would be purchasing the home. We moved into Harrington Park and became four raisins in a tub of sweet vanilla ice cream.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 18-20
, Feb 16, 2016
After law school, worked with non-profits for city kids
At Stanford, my goals were similar to those I had in high school: play varsity, get A's, and be deeply involved in public service. College led to a master's degree, which led to a Rhodes Scholarship, which led to law school. Every step of the way,
I had whiteboards up in my bedroom or dorm room with my goals written out. I woke up and went to bed determined and focused. There is a blessing, a gift in knowing where you are going and what your goals are, to have a feeling every morning that you
are waking up with a definiteness of purpose.
Yet in my first year of law school, my bright vision for the future suddenly went dark. My experiences working with kids, engaging with nonprofits, and serving in cities had sparked a powerful drive to
dedicate myself to working in these areas.
I couldn't articulate exactly what I intended to do about them. I was ambition without focus; I had passion to make a difference but no plan for how to do so.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 23
, Feb 16, 2016
Father raised in 1930s colored funeral home
My father was raised in the funeral home business. He had been born in 1936 to a single mother with health problems so severe, she couldn't care for him. In the earliest years of his life, he was cared for primarily by his elderly grandmother,
but when it became clear that even she could no longer provide for him, they gave him up to live with James and Eva Pilgrim. Eva was an elementary school teacher, and James owned a local funeral home.
Pilgrim's Funeral Home was known back then as the colored funeral home, because white funeral homes didn't tend to black bodies.
My father taught me early in my life that attitude is a conscious choice;
it is a currency available even to those with no access to money. If the world punches you in the gut, that doesn't define you; it's what you do next that speaks your truth. My father's truth was relentless positivity.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 87-8
, Feb 16, 2016
First African-American senator from New Jersey
Democrat Cory Booker was sworn into the Senate on Thursday, becoming the first African-American senator from New Jersey and the first African-American elected to the Senate since Illinois sent Barack Obama to Congress in 2004. New Jersey is now the first
state to be represented by a black senator and a Latino senator--Sen. Robert Menendez is Cuban-American--at the same time. Slightly more than 42 percent of New Jersey's population is black and Latino.
"That's kind of incredible,"
Booker said. "New Jersey is a special kind of place." Booker said that to New Jersey's credit, race was never an issue in his campaign.
Booker will serve out the remainder of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg's term, which ends in January 2015.
Booker will serve on three Senate committees: Commerce, Science and Transportation; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Environment and Public Works. Two of his assignments--commerce and environment--also were committee assignments for Lautenberg.
Source: TheDailyJournal.com coverage of 2014 New Jersey Senate race
, Oct 31, 2013
Money to cities is ok: we're one state with one destiny
Lonegan said, "You may not be able to swim in the Passaic river, but it's probably because of all the bodies floating around of shooting victims in your city."
"Oh my God," Booker said.
In another exchange, Lonegan said the state has poured countless
dollars "into a big black hole in Newark."
Booker called Lonegan's tone "insulting" and, in a theme he repeated throughout the debate, said Lonegan needed to stop "talking down to New Jersey's cities."
"We're one state with one destiny," Booker said
Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage of 2013 N.J. Senate debate
, Oct 9, 2013
Vegetarian, non-smoker, non-drinker, but over-eater
Booker doesn't drink, let alone smoke. Vegetarian overeating is his only vice, and he fights a constant battle with his weight. After a long day, he says, his bad habit would be to turn on Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, eat a whole
pizza, "and then do some ice cream." With encouragement from his Twitter friends, he lost 30 pounds in early 2011, only to gain them back with interest.
This summer, he tipped the scales at 309 before being horrified by news photographs of his own jowly face--and receiving stern advice from his friend Mike Bloomberg to "cut it out." Since then, he has dropped 40 pounds, with the goal of losing 30 more.
Source: Vogue magazine profile, "Local Hero Cory Booker"
, Dec 19, 2012
Grew up in Harrington Park; commuted from Newark to Yale
In 1996 a former Rhodes Scholar and Yale law student named Cory Booker decided to move to Newark. Booker, who had grown up 20 miles north of Newark in Harrington Park, NJ, missed living in NJ and wanted to go home,
even though his parents were now splitting their time between Washington DC and Atlanta.
Booker planned on pursuing a career in public service (though not politics), so Newark was an attractive city.
He soon found lodging in a rooming house and began commuting from Newark to New Haven to complete law school. He also started participating in a tenants' law clinic.
Source: The New Black Politician, by Andra Gillespie, p. 50
, May 7, 2012
Won with rainbow coalition, but softest support among blacks
Mayoral election returns from Newark's recent mayoral election reflect predictions of what happens when moderate and more civil rights-oriented or militant black candidates face each other in congressional elections. [Pundits] predicted that the moderate
black candidate would win a majority of the nonblack vote & split the black vote, thereby creating enough of a rainbow coalition to win. This strategy clearly did not work for Booker in 2002, when he did not win enough of Newark's large black electorate
to win. By 2006, however, Booker had become enough of a known player in Newark politics that he was able to attract enough black support to be able to win the election decisively.
Larger questions loomed for the Booker administration. His support was
the softest in the city's black sections, particularly in middle-class black areas with ties to the old black political establishment. Would Booker be able to maintain his coalition, or would small slights cause black voters to withdraw their support?
Source: The New Black Politician, by Andra Gillespie, p.101
, May 7, 2012
Show your religion in how you treat other people
Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith,
teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.
Source: Facebook posting, facebook.com/corybooker
, Apr 24, 2012
I believe in Newark as the city of opportunity
342 years ago, Puritans came ashore onto the banks of the Passaic River, searching for freedom and the promised land, they looked at the wild woods and uncultivated lands here and said, "I believe in the infinite strength of God's children, I believe in
Newark." When waves of immigrants poured into our City from across the globe, yearning to be free, with worn hands that would build this City, they said in countless foreign languages, "I believe this is the city of opportunity, I believe in Newark."
Source: 2008 State of the City Address
, Feb 1, 2008
Led effort for religious freedom via no religious registry.
Booker sponsored opposing a religious registry
Press Release from 9 Senators: [Cory Booker and 13 co-sponsors] introduced legislation that would block a registry of people based on their religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or nationality. "Religious freedom and freedom from discrimination are fundamental rights central to the very idea of being an American," Sen. Booker said. "Forcing people to sign up for a registry based on their religion, race, or national origin does nothing to keep America secure. It does, however, undermine the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution and promote the false notion that people of certain faiths and nationalities are inherently suspect. Our legislation would block Donald Trump and subsequent administrations from infringing on religious liberty by creating an immigration-related religious registry."
National origin-based immigration registry systems have proven ineffective at combatting terrorism and strengthening national security,
but effective at instilling fear in certain communities. The George W. Bush-era National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), registered over 83,000 individuals from 24 Muslim-majority countries, but yielded zero terrorism convictions.
Opposing argument: (GovTrack.us's analysis of S.54): President Trump pledged during his campaign to institute a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration and Syrian refugees "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He made good on much of that promise with an executive order suspending America's refugee admission program for 120 days and banning all entry from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days. Trump has defended a Muslim registry as necessary to national security. "They have to be [registered]. It's all about management. Our country has no management," he said when first proposing the idea in 2015. Trump reiterated his plans as president-elect in December.
Source: S.54 & H.R.5207 17-S0054 on Jan 5, 2017
Question Trump on Emoluments clause.
Booker signed questioning Trump on Emoluments clause
Excerpts from Letter from 17 Senators to Trump Organization: The Trump Organization's continuing financial relationship with President Trump raises concerns about whether it is a pass-through for income that violates the Constitution's two Emoluments Clauses: Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 on foreign Emoluments; and Article II, Clause 7 on domestic Emoluments. Please answer the following questions to help Congress understand:
- When the Trump Organization receives income from a government agency, how is that income segregated & reported?
- How does the Trump Organization determine if income is derived from foreign governments?
- Trump promised to "donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the US Treasury." Has the Trump Organization created a mechanism to make such payments?
- What is the estimated value of the 38 Chinese trademarks recently awarded to the Trump Organization? And the reported 157 pending trademark applications in
Legal Analysis: (Cato Institute, "Emoluments Clause vs. Trump Empire," 11/29/16): The wording of the Emoluments clause points one way to resolution: Congress can give consent, as it did in the early years of the Republic to presents received by Ben Franklin. It can decide what it is willing to live with in the way of Trump conflicts. If it misjudges public opinion, it will pay a political price at the next election.
FOIA argument: (ACLU Center for Democracy, "FOIA Request," 1/19/17): We filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump's conflicts of interest relating to his business connections. When Trump took the oath of office, he didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family's business interests comply with the Constitution. Some have even argued that upon taking the oath of office, the new president is already violating the Emoluments Clause.
Source: Letter from 17 Senators 17LTR-EMOL on May 18, 2017
Other candidates on Principles & Values:
Cory Booker on other issues:
Senate races 2019-20:
Senate Votes (analysis)
Page last updated: Jul 12, 2020