WASHINGTON—Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker, struggling in most polls and in fundraising momentum, doubled down Wednesday on his claim of being the presidential candidate most likely to galvanize a diverse electorate to vote in the 2020 election.
The New Jersey Democrat told a National Press Club audience that he is the candidate best able to appeal to minorities, focus on unity and find success through bipartisanship.
“To those Democrats who are looking for an alternative right now, I want to make the case today very directly: look no further,” Booker said. “I can, and have, excited a diverse coalition of voters. I can, and have, united progressives and moderates.”
He said that the candidate to unite a fractured Democratic party will recognize how minority voting blocs can swing elections. He cited flipping the House to Democratic control last year and electing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones in 2017, when 98% of black women voted Democratic, as examples of strength through diversity. The biggest moments in history, he said, came through inclusion.
“At our best, we are the party that understands also that it’s about diverse coalitions,” he said. “That’s the only thing that actually has made change—when we pull our diversity together and manifest the strength.”
He referred to high African American voter turnout during the 2013 special election in which he won his first Senate term as proof of his appeal. Former Gov. Chris Christie scheduled the senatorial election in October, three weeks before the state’s general gubernatorial election. Despite the unusual timing, Booker won with 54.9% of the vote. He said that the black voter share in the senate election was 13%, but it dropped to 9.7% for the general.
“My election on an unprecedented, random Wednesday in October got a significantly higher turnout of African Americans than his gubernatorial election that had many competitive races on the ballot,” Booker said.
The most recent CNN poll places Booker at less than 1%.
Booker said he is focused on both small-donor fundraising and early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. He has at least 55 official endorsements from “those people you really want in a caucus room,” such as Iowan activists and elected officials, according to caucus coverage group Iowa Starting Line.
“The big challenge for us in this next 200 days going into Iowa is going to be fundraising,” he said, “because the polls tend to give people this false sense of who is the most viable candidate and the money often follows the polls.”