Cory Booker, N.J. senator, launches 2020 bid

February 1, 2019 GMT

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on Friday said he will be running for president in 2020 and touted a theme of “together” to unite the country.

Mr. Booker, who took office in 2013, said his campaign stresses American collectiveness in an era of division.

“I grew up knowing the only way we can make change is when people come together,” he says in a video message.

The New Jersey senator took a subtle hit at President Trump by referencing the controversial family separation policy on the U.S.-Mexican border that drew ire over the summer.

“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; 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,” he said.

He highlighted the influence of immigration and the roles that slavery and the civil rights movement had in forming today’s America.

The senator, the second African-American candidate to jump into the race, talked about how it moved him to move to Newark, New Jersey, a community he praised for its blended diversity.

“I still live there today, and I’m the only senator that still goes home to a low-income, inner-city community the first community that took a chance on me,” he said.

Though he never formally declared an exploratory committee, Mr. Booker’s announcement was expected as the senator spent months visiting key primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

During a recent trip south, former President Jimmy Carter encouraged Mr. Booker to make a bid for the presidency.

“You encouraging me means more to me than you can imagine,” he told Mr. Carter.

The Republican National Committee slammed Mr. Booker as a “disingenuous self-promoter” just hours after his announcement.

“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty,’ ” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement. “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.”

The senator also drew Republican anger during Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and earned the moniker “Spartacus” after releasing confidential emails about the then-nominee.

Mr. Booker is joining an already crowded field of Democratic 2020 contenders.

Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have all formally declared or formed an exploratory committee.

Joining them are 10 other candidates, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro of Texas.

Politicos are still looking to see if Democratic powerhouses Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent; former Vice President Joseph R. Biden; and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas will enter the race.

This report was based in part on wire services.