In what was billed as the major hometown rally kicking off his campaign, Mr. Booker spoke to a late-arriving but enthusiastic crowd at Military Park, a revitalized green oasis in a city that was once a symbol of urban despair but has credible claims of an economic and cultural resurgence. Mr. Booker combined his familiar themes of unity with specific policies to close the racial wealth gap, repair what he considers a broken criminal justice system and set the country on a path to be a leader in climate change.
Video: Sen. Cory Booker kicks off 2020 campaign tour in Newark
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We cant wait when powerful forces are turning their prejudice into policy and rolling back the rights that generations of Americans fought for and heroes died for, Mr. Booker said. We cant wait when this administration is throwing children fleeing violence into cages, banning Muslims from entering the nation founded on religious liberty, and preventing brave transgender Americans from serving the country they love.
The event also marked a kind of apex of Mr. Bookers focus on Newark, a city he mentions more often on the campaign trail than his own name, hoping that the citys rocky yet resilient rise can help propel him to the top of a crowded Democratic field for the 2020 election.
Video: Sen. Booker Kicks Off 2020 Campaign Tour
In a race that features six senators, Mr. Booker has often sought to shift the focus from his time in Washington to his tenure in what is known as Brick City, when he was a young, upstart mayor who quickly achieved celebrity status for his well-documented and social-media-fueled efforts to turn around Newark.
There is nobody in this race who has been a chief executive officer of their states largest city managing through a recession, Mr. Booker told crowds in New Hampshire last weekend.
Justice for Palestine protesters interrupt Cory Bookers campaign kickoff speech
While Newark, which has a population of 285,000, is clearly in the midst of a revival, it still struggles with crime and poverty. The median household income is roughly $20,000 less than the national average, and more than 28 percent of the citys residents live below the poverty line, according to the United States census.
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And Mr. Bookers tenure in Newark was not without blemishes. The Police Department, plagued by decades of mismanagement and corruption, was investigated by the Department of Justice and placed under a consent decree. The results were mixed for a highly touted $100 million investment in Newark schools by Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook. And though homicides reached historic lows early in Mr. Bookers first term, crime began to tick back up just as he was elected to the Senate in 2013, eliciting criticism that he had stopped focusing on the city with his sights set on Washington.
Ras Baraka, the current mayor of Newark, was one of those critics. But he has since reconciled with Mr. Booker, and the two have united around a message of progress sparked by Mr. Booker and brought across the finish line by Mr. Baraka (his re-election slogan last year was Touchdown!).
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If you make your bones here, there is no place out there that can stop you in this country, Mr. Baraka said, referring to Newark. I usually tell people he got us on the field, and we took the ball and got us in the end zone. But if you cant get in the game, you dont get to win the championship. Senator Booker got us in the game.
Its the city that kicked off his political career and its the city where U.S. Sen. Cory Booker will officially begin the first national tour of his presidential campaign.
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Amid the crowd on a surprisingly hot April afternoon, Mr. Booker basked in the citys renewal, as evidenced by the street vendors lining the park and the long shadows cast by skyscrapers, both venerable ones and new glass towers bearing the logos of Fortune 500 companies.
Next week, Booker will swing through Iowa, Georgia and Nevada, as the first stops on his tour, focusing on communities that have been left out, according to his campaign.
When this city took a chance on me as their mayor, the chief executive of this city, I didnt wait to bring people together, Mr. Booker said. He continued: We got people to invest here. We opened new businesses, created thousands of new jobs — and after 60 years of decline, Newark is growing again.
Mr. Booker began his campaign for president with a video from the streets of the city he still calls home, and his campaign swings feature the near ubiquitous campaign line of I got my degree at Stanford but my Ph.D. on the streets of Newark. But he ratcheted up his focus on Newark in the weeks before the rally.
Cory Booker launched his first campaign tour in Newark
In a recent campaign swing through New Hampshire, Mr. Booker recalled his much-publicized battle with Conan OBrien, who as host of The Tonight Show in 2009 joked that a better health care plan for citizens of Newark would consist of a bus ticket out of Newark. Mr. Booker responded by recording a video banning Mr. OBrien from the citys international airport. The tiff played out for weeks on social media and late-night shows, before Hillary Clinton stepped in to broker a peace deal.
Justice for All is an unlimited concept. It should be an umbrella term for all peoples who are suffering and oppressed, Wasim Kannan said. Justice for ICE detainees, justice for Palestine, justice for Kashmir, justice for the people suffering under China. Everybody in the world whos suffering needs justice.
Mr. Booker, who critics sometimes charge chased fame more than his mayoral duties, paints the whole affair as a clever bit of earned publicity for his struggling city.
Were here today to seek justice. Were here today because we are impatient for that justice and our sense of moral urgency, our impatience comes from the most demanding of all values — it comes from love, love of our families, love of our communities, love of our country, and love of each other, Booker said.
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That video went viral, Mr. Booker told a crowd at a house party in Bedford, N.H., last week. Every show I was going on — I went on Jay Leno — every chance I had I talked about the opportunities in Newark. I bragged about my city with more American eyes watching than ever before.
Leading up to Mr. Bookers address was a cattle call of influential New Jersey Democrats, including Gov. Philip D. Murphy, Senator Robert Menendez, Mr. Baraka and Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County executive.
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But as much as his home state and city were represented at the rally — even the marching band from his launch video took the stage to warm up the crowd before Mr. Baraka spoke — Mr. Booker continued to focus on a sense of critical national urgency.
Video: Sen. Cory Booker holds campaign rally in Newark
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In choosing to have his kickoff rally on April 13, Mr. Booker pointed to the same day in 1963, when Dr. King first woke up in a jail in Birmingham and began writing what would become Letter From a Birmingham Jail.
Generations of Americans have shown us what was possible when they refused to wait, Mr. Booker said. Now its our turn. And we have work to do.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the year that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote Letter From a Birmingham Jail. It was 1963, not 1969.
The dissonance didnt confuse his supporters, nor did it tamp down enthusiasm Saturday. But the message itself has an expiration date, and Booker himself has been obsessed with the passage of time as a theme. In a recent Washington Post story, he spoke about being a bachelor — adding that there were 700 days until hed be president and that a lot could happen between now and then. In his speech Saturday, he harped on getting to Newark two decades ago. Hes launching a tour the campaign dubbed the Justice for All Tour, replete with markers of the past, like his campaign logo.
Share Yahoo News Hunter Walker Apr 13th 2019 5:41PM NEWARK, N.J. — Cory Booker delivered a message of love and unity at his campaigns hometown kickoff on Saturday, but the New Jersey senators speech was interrupted by pro-Palestinian activists shouting Justice for Palestine.
The event was the launch of a two-week Justice for All tour in the city where he served as mayor from 2006 until 2013. Booker has framed his campaign around an emotional and optimistic pitch to voters. He maintained that tone as he outlined some of his core policies, including lowering the age of Medicaid eligibility and establishing a baby bonds program to provide low-income children with a nest egg when they reach adulthood.