Cory Booker calls on Iowa Democratic Party to keep the moral high ground ahead of midterms

In a visit to Des Moines for an Iowa Democratic fundraiser, Cory Booker calls the Democratic Party one that has heart in policy debates.


Thomas A. Stewart

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., interacts with the crowd at the Iowa Democratic Party’s fall gala at HyVee Hall in Des Moines on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. There is speculation that Booker will launch a 2020 presidential campaign, though he has not announced plans to do so yet.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

DES MOINES — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who many speculate could be a 2020 presidential candidate, gave a rallying cry for Democrats to “stay faithful” at a major fundraising event on Oct. 6 for the Iowa Democratic Party.

He headlined the Party’s Fall Gala at Hy-Vee Hall just hours after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as an associate justice on the Supreme Court following weeks of debate over his nomination in the Senate.

Booker said he was inundated with text messages from those affected by sexual misconduct on the plane ride to Iowa, which was delayed two days because of Senate action on Kavanaugh.

“We are not defined by the president who mocks a hero, Dr. [Christine] Blasey Ford,” he said during prepared remarks.

Booker cheered a long slate of statewide Iowa Democratic candidates in attendance and noted in particular the need to elect women.

Calling on the Democratic Party to “remember who we are,” Booker emphasized the party should be the one with the strong moral compass.

He recounted his start in politics when one of his mentors held him after he watched a shooting victim die in his arms. She told him to “stay faithful.”

Booker was an outspoken Kavanaugh opponent in a confirmation process that was fraught with accusations of sexual misconduct against the nominee and questions of his judicial temperament or lack thereof. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is charged with vetting nominees to the Supreme Court and has been outwardly critical of the nominee.

“The Democratic leaders promised to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation from Day 1 and used every plan in the book to accomplish that goal,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on the Senate floor Oct. 6 before the final vote.

President Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July. Initial hearings began Sept. 4, though the sexual-assault allegations from his accuser Professor Christine Blasey Ford didn’t come to light until days before a committee vote was scheduled.

Kavanaugh and Ford appeared in front of the committee Sept. 27 to answer questions about the allegations regarding an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago.

Booker was one of nine committee Democrats who called for an FBI investigation into Ford’s and two other women’s public allegations against the judge. The FBI completed a nearly weeklong investigation, at the prompting of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Before the allegations came to light, Booker was part of a group of Democrats on the committee who demanded documents to be released to the public that contained information on judicial decisions concerning racial profiling and abortion.

“The point of all this is he is clearly running for president,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in an interview on Fox News on Sept. 6.

Booker won a special election in 2013 to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate. In 2014, he was re-elected to a full six-year term.

News outlets from across the nation attended the senator’s speech to track a potential 2020 candidate, but notably missing from Booker’s comments was an announcement that he intended to launch a 2020 presidential bid. He had previously told the Des Moines Register he was in Iowa to rouse energy for candidates on the ballot for November’s midterm elections.

Other candidates in recent months have visited Iowa, which holds the first-in-the nation caucuses.

Democratic hopefuls Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have adeclared their candidacy this year for the Oval Office.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a Judiciary Committee member, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., have also visited the state.

Booker left the stage to cheers of “How long? Not long” until November.

“We have 30 days to get people to come to the polls,” Democratic candidate for Iowa secretary of state Deidre DeJear said. “We have 30 days to change the minds of those who have lost hope.”

DeJear — who, if elected, would be the first black woman to hold the office — said Booker’s comments of keeping hope particularly resonated with her.

“It is not a time to curl up. This is not a time to shut up. This is not a time to give up. It is a time get up, to rise up, to speak up,” Booker said. “It is time for you not to wait for hope, but to be the hope.”