New Jersey Senator Cory Booker visited Chicago Tuesday to attend a pair of events for Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s Senate campaign. In an exclusive interview with Ward Room Tuesday morning, Booker championed Duckworth’s candidacy and touted her agenda.
“Her agenda is, to me, something that is urgently needed in the Senate,” Booker said. "We need somebody that’s focused on families, somebody that’s focused on education, veterans."
“I think when she becomes a senator she will become a national voice, really changing the national conversation,” he added.
Booker, who was included on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential shortlist, served as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013 and has subsequently served in the Senate since 2013. On Tuesday, Booker claimed that, in order for the Democrats to take control of the Senate in next month's election, Duckworth would have to beat out Republican incumbent Mark Kirk.
“Tammy’s essential,” he said. “If we can’t win this race in Illinois, we're not going to be able to really flip the Senate and be able to finally do our job and get things done and stop the gridlock that we see in the Senate right now.”
Although Booker called Kirk a “friend,” he explained that the November election isn’t about “friendship or personality.”
"This is about making sure that the Democrats have control in Washington and can again get us back on track to setting an agenda that's about investing in the people of our country, not with handouts but giving people an extended opportunity,” he noted.
The senator said he supports a Democratic agenda that adds jobs, builds the economy, increases the minimum wage and focuses on infrastructure. He also expressed the need to make college more affordable for students and said he wants to pass criminal justice reform within the first 100 days of the new term.
Booker faulted Senate Republicans, namely Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for failing to act on certain issues that have bipartisan support, like criminal justice reform.
“We have a Senate right now that’s being controlled by the Republicans, by Mitch McConnell, and it's frustrating to me to be in the Senate and see even bipartisan legislation, like criminal justice reform, get stopped when we have probably 70, 80 votes to do some changes there,” Booker said. “It stopped because Republicans won’t put it on the floor, Mitch McConnell won’t put it on the floor.”
Booker also criticized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, calling his campaign “damaging” and claiming it “doesn’t reflect Democrats or Republicans."
“We’ve got to get back to focusing on our values, that's what Tammy Duckworth I think is a profound reminder,” Booker said. “Here is a diverse female candidate who is, every single day talking about the fundamentals: investing in America, investing in our kids, building out our infrastructure."
“She’s going to make sure that we as a country don’t focus on right or left, let’s just get the job done every single day — support American manufacturing, support American education, support this country every single day because if you invest in America, America produces tremendous, tremendous results,” he added.