About 500 people came to Reedy Fork Baptist Church on the outskirts of Simpsonville Friday to see and hear from Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
In the crowd were Rev. Annie R. Blackmon and the Rev. Edna McKinney, both of Flat Rock Baptist Church in Piedmont. Blackmon said she is an undecided voter. McKinney said she is backing Booker because she was impressed with his “forceful” questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing in September.
Booker’s Friday stop was the first time he has visited the Upstate since kicking off his campaign last month. Two other Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klochubar of Minnesota, campaigned in Greenville in February.
Booker, who will attend another campaign event in Charleston on Saturday, told reporters after Friday’s event that he intends “to go places where you often don’t see candidates.”
Another prospective Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, also is coming to South Carolina this weekend.
President Donald Trump has been ‘igniting racism,’ Cory Booker says
During his speech, Booker said President Donald Trump “has been doing horrible things” that include “inciting racism.” He said there is an “urgent need” to defeat Trump in the election next year.
Speaking to the media afterward, Booker said, “Donald Trump has been using race as a way to divide Americans. He’s been attacking people using racist policies and language.”
Cory Booker wants to spark a ‘revival of civil grace’
Yet Booker stressed that Democrats must do more than criticize Trump and other Republicans.
“As Democrats, we cannot define ourselves by what we are against,” he said. “We have to define ourselves by what we are for.”
He also said his campaign is about more than winning an election.
“This is not about one office. It is about all of us,” he said, adding that his goal is to spark a “revival of civil grace.”
Cory Booker’s policy positions
Booker said he wants to increase access to health care for all Americans, something he described as a “civil right.”
He also said he will work to “tear down the system of mass incarceration.”
Booker played a key role in the recent passage of a criminal reform bill that he said seeks to correct problems that are “a cancer on the soul of our country.” He also favors legalization of marijuana, citing a disproportionate number of blacks who are arrested for marijuana offenses.
Booker called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and said the “assault on unions” in America must end.
He also called for investing in education. Booker said that under current tax laws, Wall Street executives receive better treatment than teachers.
Anderson Democrat urges Booker to reach out to ‘hip-hop generation’
During an exchange Friday about increasing the turnout of black voters, Anderson resident Tonya Winbush urged Booker to reach out to the “hip-hop generation.”
“Let them know that we care and that we are rooting for them and that they are important,” said Winbush, who is an officer with the Anderson County Democratic Party.
Booker, 49, replied that “my generation is the hip-hop generation.”
“I don’t want you to walk around here saying like ‘Don’t believe the hype,’” he said. “I want you to be more like ‘Fight the power.’”