For his first live TV interview since officially announcing his 2020 presidential campaign on Friday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) chose The View. Will he end up regretting that decision?
Right off the bat, he dove into his stump speech pitch. “I think all of us know that so many Americans are losing faith in this country's ability to work for them,” Booker said. “People are feeling left out, left behind. I think a lot of folks are beginning to feel that the forces that are tearing us apart in this country are stronger than the forces that tie us together. I don't believe that.”
“So I’m running to restore our sense of common purpose, to focus on the common pain that we have all over this country,” he continued. “We can do better and I'm going to be in it to try to show folks that when we come together, when we stand together, when we work together, there’s nothing we can’t do.”
The senator continued to tout his bonafides and resisted taking the bait when it came to criticizing Senate colleagues like Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, who beat him to the 2020 punch last month.
“I’m proud of not only who I am and my convictions, but this is a time where too many people I think are trying to pit people against each other,” he said. “Where the Democratic Party—I don't want it to be defined by what we're against but by what we're for, I don't want it to be defined by beating Republicans but by uniting Americans.”
Then came the questions from conservative co-host Meghan McCain, who expressed concerns about Booker’s “authenticity” and noted that even Saturday Night Live has characterized him as “grandstanding” in his “performance during televised hearings.”
She asked: “How do you convince people, especially on the left, that you’re authentic and that you’re not a phony?”
“You can’t speak to ‘authenticity,’” Booker replied. “You’ve just got to be who you are.”
Interrupting Booker, McCain said, “Sarah Palin was parodied on SNL and it turned into a reality, so there is a power in that as well.”
After the senator tried to steer the conversation back to his substantive accomplishments, Joy Behar helped him out by saying, “SNL parodies a lot of people, Sarah Palin’s the only one who really got burnt.”
But McCain was undeterred, telling Booker, “When I think of you now, I think of ‘I am Spartacus’ and I don’t know if that’s the best reflection of you.”
Booker claimed that moment from Brett Kavanaugh’s initial hearings was “twisted” by the media, calling it one of his “prouder moments” in the Senate. He blamed “tear-down culture” for framing it in a negative light.
“That’s the problem with our culture,” he said. “We have people getting more and more ratings by tearing down that other people. That’s not how I’m going to run this campaign. If you're tired of that bitterness, that trash talking, that trolling, that politics that is a race to the bottom in our country, then don’t support me. Because I’m not in this race to tear people down. I'm in this race to try to build our nation up.”