Standing beneath the spotlight behind a podium emblazoned with the DNC’s garish “Better Than This” logo, with a font that looks like it was cribbed from a Michael Jackson album, Booker made his case to be Hillary Clinton’s second-in-command. The New Jersey Senator appeared mere hours after his name resurfaced as being among Clinton’s top vice presidential contenders—a counter to the two safer, older white choices.
Booker could barely contain himself when asked if he wanted to be Clinton’s running mate.“I’m very happy to do whatever I can to support this candidate to win,” he said.
“You’re talking to a former football player. I’m happy to do what the coach asks me to do, and play whatever role the team wants me to play.”
The event, billed as sanctimonious counter-programming to the “hateful” rhetoric of the RNC, included Senator Al Franken and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the de facto leader of the nice guys brigade this week.
Booker, who reserved no niceties for Governor Chris Christie—the two men did not speak after Christie led a mock military tribunal for Clinton in the Quicken Loans Arena—flew into Cleveland specifically for the press conference.
“I was not intending to be here,” the senator said. “But I had to be here. I had to stand next to Debbie, who I knew was going through this on a daily basis, trying in a short press conference to discuss what went on the night before.”
The Democrats in Cleveland needed the help. The first time Wasserman Schultz attempted to slam Republicans for offensive rhetoric in Cleveland, at a press conference four days ago, she only managed to be boring. On Thursday, they distributed another copy of the mock “Trump Times,” which highlighted all the naughty words Trump has said over the past year.
Schultz and Franken spoke briefly, then ceded the floor to the man of the hour, looking up admiringly as Booker sermonized against the danger of the Republican Party and its standard bearer.
“What really got me here, was the level and intensity of the hate and cruelty that I’ve seen on the floor and coming out of speakers,” the vice presidential hopeful declared.
His lips quivered at times as he stared straight into the crammed room of press, working the crowd with lines about soaring unity and triumph.
Seemingly intended as a kind of final audition before Clinton’s anticipated vice presidential choice this weekend, Booker emphasized the former Secretary of State’s experience and ability to work both sides of the aisle.
Booker later sent a somewhat cloying tweet with the two of them hugging, during the press conference.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Booker, along with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine, were the three finalists in Clinton’s veepstakes.
Booker did not respond to a question today about whether he would be going to Florida this weekend, where the announcement is likely to take place. A subsequent question to his staff from The Daily Beast went unanswered.
Veering between proselytizing and condemning, Booker at one point intimated that he was preparing a speech for the Democratic National Convention next week. After his press conference, the DNC confirmed that he would be speaking.
A spokesman for the Clinton campaign who is familiar with DNC operations did not immediately return an additional request for comment.
“When you see our convention next week, you’re going to see the spirit,” Booker proclaimed from the podium.
And Booker’s camp hope it includes his anointment as patron saint.