Booker urges activists, leaders to heed social justice call





WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - On his first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker urged Democratic activists in small towns and black leaders on Friday to heed his call for social justice and apply it to the fight for universal health care coverage and a fair criminal justice system.

Booker opened his first day of campaigning in the early voting presidential caucus state using the rhetoric reminiscent of the civil rights movement to distinguish himself early in the race. And although Iowa is a vastly white state, Booker's is a sentiment that echoes within the state's Democratic base.

In a crowded church basement in Mason City, Booker likened denying health care coverage to denying civil rights.

"You cannot have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if you don't have health care," the Democratic senator told an overwhelmingly white audience of about 100 who turned out despite sub-zero temperatures. "That's not justice."

Later, in a racially mixed crowd in Waterloo, Booker bemoaned a criminal justice system that disproportionately punishes racial minorities and "ultimately makes us a country that has a cancer on our soul."

Race is shaping up to be central to the Democratic presidential campaign. Democratic prospects have called President Donald Trump's portrayal of immigrants racist and condemned his reaction to a deadly 2017 demonstration in Virginia as being sympathetic toward white supremacists.

Booker, who is African-American, is starting his campaign for the Iowa caucuses by framing the election in terms of a movement, like those for civil and voting rights more than a half century ago.

It's a theme that appeals to Nancy Bobo, a white Des Moines Democrat who likes Booker.

"I think more and more people are seeing that social justice doesn't just apply to race," said Bobo, who was among the first supporters of Democrat Barack Obama in Iowa in 2007. "When I think of social justice, I think of all the different laws and structures that impede opportunities for people for a whole range of reasons."

In Waterloo, Booker became the first presidential candidate this year to visit Black Hawk County, where the black population - at 9 percent - is more than twice that of Iowa overall.

Booker, a former mayor of Newark, held a public panel discussion in Waterloo focusing mainly on issues facing the black community.

Throughout his events, Booker sprinkled in references to civil rights figure John Lewis, a longtime Democratic congressman from Georgia.

"I want to try to rekindle in all of us the idea that this has got to be a moment in this nation that is more than just about an election," he told the audience in Mason City. "This is about the cause of our country."

In Mason City, Booker bemoaned the influence of corporate and lobbyist money in elections, and told the audience he would not accept such contributions.

However, Booker's candidacy is being encouraged by a super political action committee started by wealthy Democratic donor Steve Phillips, a friend and former classmate of Booker's at Stanford University.

Booker told reporters he was frustrated by super PACs generally, but he did not expressly call for Phillips to shut it down.

"I don't think super PACs should be in a campaign for anybody, including Donald Trump. So, I don't support the super PAC," he said. "I've said publicly time and time again, I don't think there should be super PACs in this race."

Phillips was undeterred.

"Cory Booker's candidacy is the best vehicle for inspiring the kinds of large voter turnout in communities of color that will be necessary for progressives to win up and down the ticket in 2020," he said in an emailed statement.

However, he added, the super PAC Dream United would likely support whomever the Democratic Party nominates.

"What we are doing goes beyond Booker. We are doing this for our country," he said.

Booker was campaigning in Cedar Rapids and planned to visit Iowa City on Friday and continue to stops in Marshalltown and Des Moines on Saturday.

___

Associated Press writer Brian Slodysko contributed from Washington.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Jussie Smollett case: New questions over initial reaction from top Democrats
Jussie Smollett case: New questions over initial reaction from top Democrats

Maxine Watters, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker immediately condemned the alleged attack as a hate crime.

Booker holds back on questions about
Booker holds back on questions about 'Empire' actor attack

Democratic presidential candidates spent Sunday courting voters in states with influential early roles in the 2020 primary, their busy pace of holiday weekend campaigning demonstrating that the contest to challenge President Donald Trump is fully underway.

Opinion: The Green New Deal Gets a Senate Vote
Opinion: The Green New Deal Gets a Senate Vote

The publicly ridiculed Green New Deal gets a vote in the Senate. But what's in the Green New Deal and will Democrats-other than Kamala Harris, Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand-vote for it? Video: Journal Editorial Report / Image: Getty

A Wendell Berry Solution to Cory Booker
A Wendell Berry Solution to Cory Booker's Problem

Wendell Berry, the poet, essayist, environmental activist, and farmer, once wrote that "eating is an agricultural act." This is a statement that should both liberate us and implicate us -- we are actors in the food economy, and every decision we make about what we eat and where we buy our food from is a vote for a direction that the food economy will continue upon, or newly take, to meet consumer demand. Unfortunately, most of us are extremely disconnected from our food's lineage, and we're unaware of our active role in the series of relationships that is global in scope. Our role, however, isn't merely as passive consumers, although the industrial food economy prefers the relationship...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.