AP NEWS

Cory Booker kicks off presidential run with Trump-Russia collusion pitch

April 13, 2019

At a rally Saturday that kicked off his presidential run, Sen. Cory Booker said that his quest to repair a broken America must overcome a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia.

Mr. Booker, who is running on a platform of social, economic and racial justice, said the divisions among Americans was not an accident.

“From 16000 Pennsylvania Avenue to the Kremlin, we know what their strategy is. It is to pit us against each other for their own gain,to make us suspicious of one another, to make us fear each other, dislike each other, to make us hate each other. That is how they win,” Mr. Booker told a crowd of thousands in Newark, New Jersey.

He contrasted the conspiracy to divide with his campaign, which he describes as built on “love” and “moral justice.”

“Critics are going to tell you, tell all of us, that a campaign powered by grace and love and a deep faith in each other can’t beat that. But I say it is the only way we win,” said Mr. Booker.

He served two terms a mayor of Newark before being elected to the Senate in 2013. He still lives in the city and frequently uses it as a political backdrop.Languishing in the low single digits in the polls, Mr. Booker is looking to distinguish himself and break out of the pack.

Most of Mr. Booker’s rivals have avoided making Trump-Russia collusion a campaign issue, as political strategists warn that voters have tired of the narrative.

However, even with special counsel Robert Mueller this month clearing Mr. Trump after a two-year investigation, nearly half of America’s still believe there was collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Mr. Booker, who is black, has made racial justice a cornerstone of his run. In the speech, he vowed to fight generations of racism and white supremacy that were built into U.S. laws and culture.

“Unlike this president, I will not ignore or give license to white supremacy,” he said.

Though the Democratic race for many has become a contest of who can move further left or claim the progressive mantle, Mr. Booker said that he would remain focused on serving the American people.

“Our first priority must be to make people’s lives better,” he said.

Still, he outlined an ambitious liberal agenda that included legalizing marijuana at the federal level, fighting climate change, creating a Medicare for All program for government-run health care and strengthening gun control laws.

He vowed to champion women’s rights and LBGTQ rights, including reversing Mr. Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

America “can’t wait” for the justice he envisioned, he said, which was a refrain in the speech and a theme for the campaign.

“We can’t wait when this administration is throwing children fleeing violence into cages,” said Mr. Booker.

On immigration, he promised comprehensive reform that would open a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. as well as for the so-called Dreamers who illegally entered the country as children.

Deliver a line in Spanish, he said, “I will be a president for all people in America.”