The high-profile Democrat from New Jersey announced his White House run with a new website and a tweet featuring a two-minute-long campaign launch video, as well as an email to supporters.
“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,” Booker said in the video.
The former mayor of Newark, known for his oratory skills, added that he envisions a country “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’s entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race was widely expected. His jam-packed December visit to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House, had the look and the feel of a presidential campaign trip. Aides confirmed that in recent weeks, Booker’s been hiring staffers for his emerging campaign.
Unlike some of his rivals for the nomination, Booker skipped setting up an exploratory committee as a first step toward running for the White House. Campaign aides said that next weekend (Feb. 8-9) Booker will visit Iowa – the state that holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses – and then head straight to South Carolina (Feb. 10-11) – which holds the first southern contest. They added that Booker – who turns 50 in April - will return to New Hampshire over President’s Day weekend.
Booker joins a growing field of candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris of California; former San Antonio mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have set up presidential exploratory committees, as has Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Booker’s announcement came less than two weeks after Harris jumped into the race on Martin Luther King Day, followed by a massive rally in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., days later. The two senators, both African-American, are expected to battle for the influential black vote in the Democratic primaries.
In his video, Booker told the story of his parents' struggle to move their family into a predominantly white neighborhood with great public schools. He also highlighted how as an adult, he moved into Newark's Central Ward, a low-income inner-city neighborhood where he continues to live.
“Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose,” Booker said at the end of the video announcement. “Together, America, we will rise.”
His campaign highlighted that Booker – like many of his primary rivals – would reject contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs) and federal lobbyists. They added that Booker also opposed the use of super PACs to help his campaign or those of his rivals.
Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last summer and fall was one of the Democrats leading the push against the confirmation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He raised eyebrows and was widely mocked by Republicans for comparing himself to Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator and rebel slave who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire.
Booker was ridiculed by Republicans after threatening to defy the Senate rules and release what he thought were confidential documents concerning Kavanaugh’s past.
“This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” he said at the time.
Reacting to his announcement Friday, the Republican National Committee blasted him as a "self-promoter" who's out of touch with most Americans.
“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty.’ Even the liberal base thinks he’s a disingenuous self-promoter, and his embrace of policies like higher taxes, single-payer health care, and government-guaranteed jobs make him totally out-of-touch with most Americans,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said.