Booker says it doesn't bother him that friend Deval Patrick is getting in 2020 race

CONCORD, N.H. – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker says it doesn’t bother him that someone he considers a friend -- former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick -- is making a last-minute entry into the 2020 primary race.

The senator from New Jersey, after filing to place his name on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary ballot, told Fox News on Friday that “some of my closest friends in all of politics have either run or are still running” for the White House.

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“I do not take it as a personal insult that my friends believe that they are the best person to be president. It is a good thing that we have a robust competition at a time that we need to make sure that whoever emerges from this is the best person to beat Donald Trump,” Booker said.

Booker spoke with reporters one day after Patrick sat in the same seat and took questions after filing for New Hampshire’s primary ballot just hours after declaring his candidacy. Patrick, like Booker, is an African-American Democrat pushing an ambitious agenda but also an ability to get past the bitter partisanship in order to unify the country.

Asked about Patrick, Booker noted, “I'm running my race. There have been people coming in and people going out and I'm sure that still might change. But I'm very excited about the campaign that we’ve built.”

And Booker insisted that “I'm not focusing on those other candidates” and refused to criticize his rivals. He told Fox News that the decisions that voters make are “not by how well I take shots at other Democrats. In fact, I think that in this race, that should be a flaw that people should point out, and should make them choose the person that doesn't take potshots at other candidates.”

Booker’s appearance in New Hampshire came two days after new super PAC - vowing to spend $1 million over the next month on behalf of Booker – launched. The outside group, named United We Win, was formed by Democratic donors and consultants in New Jersey. The super PAC went up Thursday with a low-six figure national digital buy.

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Booker – who noted that he took a pledge to end “the corrupting influence of money in our politics” – told reporters “I do not want super PACs in this race for anybody, including me. And I think a lot of folks who are out there and want us to win, the best thing they can do is to go to Cory Booker.com and make a contribution.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey headlines a rally outside the New Hampshire Statehouse after filing to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, in Concord, NH on Nov. 15, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey headlines a rally outside the New Hampshire Statehouse after filing to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, in Concord, NH on Nov. 15, 2019

Booker has made numerous trips to New Hampshire and the other early voting states of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, and he’s built up formidable organizing teams in those states. He’s also a talented orator who excels in the kind of retail politics needed to perform well in New Hampshire and Iowa. But he’s languishing in the low single digits in most early state and national polling in the 2020 Democratic nomination race.

But Booker insisted that he’s on the move in the “metrics that matter.” Booker highlighted that “what we're seeing every day from the crowds that we're getting that coming out to my events, to the support from people in New Hampshire donating to my campaign, to….leading this campaign in (endorsements from) local elected officials who have heft and influence in their communities, or looked to as beacons of what's best.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Statehouse hands over a $1,000 check to longtime New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner as he files place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, in Concord, NH on Nov. 15, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Statehouse hands over a $1,000 check to longtime New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner as he files place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, in Concord, NH on Nov. 15, 2019

And with less than two and a half months to go until Iowa and New Hampshire kick off the presidential nominating calendar, Booker looked back at history and emphasized “if you look at what it's taken to go on to the White House from the Democratic Party, if you look at from [Jimmy] Carter to [Barack] Obama, we are where they were at this time. I have that right stuff that I believe will win here in the Granite State.”