Booker Touts Unity, Takes Aim At Trump

| by Nik Bonopartis
New Jersey Sen. Cory BookerNew Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey delivered an impassioned speech on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, telling the crowd of thousands that "love always trumps hate."

Booker, 47, is a former three-term mayor of Newark and became the first African-American senator from New Jersey when he won a special election in 2013 to replace 87-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died that summer of viral pneumonia.

A media darling, Booker has been lauded for his use of social media and the way he uses it to connect with his constituents, one time even personally shoveling snow from the driveway of an elderly Newark resident who reached out for help.

"Patriotism is love of country," Booker told the convention crowd in Philadelphia on July 25, according to a transcript from NJ.com. "But you can't love your country without loving your countrymen and your countrywomen."

Booker quoted from the late poet Maya Angelou, sounding notes of unity and drawing cheers from the crowd before he turned to attacking Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"Trump says he would run our country like he has run his businesses," Booker said. "Well, I'm from Jersey, and we have seen the way he leads. In Atlantic City, he got rich while his companies declared multiple bankruptcies."

Booker was referring to three of Trump's now-defunct Atlantic City casinos: the Trump Plaza and Casino Hotel, which was shuttered in 2014; the Trump Marina Hotel Casino, closed in 2011; and the Trump Taj Mahal, which now operates under new ownership, according to The New York Times.

Although opponents have criticized Trump for his inability to keep his Atlantic City properties afloat, the former "Las Vegas of the east" had been deterioriating for years and was dying a slow death. Reasons include the economic downturn of the last decade and an increasingly crowded competitive market that includes other nearby casinos -- like Connecticut's Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino -- and smaller venues, like New York's Empire City Casino. Atlantic City also faces competition from casinos in the nearby Philadelphia area.

Still, Booker's jab was enough to draw a response from Trump.

"If Cory Booker is the future of the Democratic Party, they have no future! I know more about Cory than he knows about himself," the real estate mogul tweeted on July 26.

With his calls for unity, Booker also seemed to address Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters, who turned out in force on the first day of the convention to protest against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was booed off the stage earlier in the day. Sanders himself was also hit with jeers after urging supporters to unify behind Clinton, despite the release of a trove of emails showing DNC officials secretly worked to undermine the Sanders campaign.

Mentioning issued like income inequality and access to education -- issues Sanders pushed heavily during his primary campaign -- Booker told the crowd that progressivism represents "the best of our values."

Sources: Philly.com, NJ.com, The New York Times, Donald J. Trump/TwitterWKXW / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Will Booker's speech resonate with independent voters?
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