Cory Booker is a Democratic junior Senator from New Jersey, serving on the Commerce, Environment, Foreign Relations, Small Business, and Judiciary committees. He is the ranking member of the subcommittees on Global Health and Surface Transportation. After completing his M.A. in Sociology, Booker received a Rhodes scholarship to study U.S. history at Oxford. After receiving his J.D., Booker promptly ran for a seat on the Municipal Council of Newark, New Jersey, where he served until 2002. In 2006, he was elected Mayor of Newark, and in 2013, Booker was elected to the U.S. Senate. He announced his bid on YouTube on the first day of Black History Month 2019.
On the Issues
AAI tracks the official and campaign-trail statements of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most.
Click the icon or scroll through the issues to read what Cory Booker has said on the campaign trail.
- "For years, the right to vote for millions of Americans — disproportionately in communities of color —has been under assault... It is time for a new Voting Rights Act to finally put an end to systematic attempts to limit access to the ballot box and strip citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote..... During my presidency, we will fight to protect and expand every American's right to take part in our democracy." (4/17/19, The Hill)
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
- "We must use our Department of Justice and the Department of Education's civil rights division to go after schools that are denying people equal rights and equal protections. And that's the last point I want to make. Again, this is very personal to me, because there was a time that people used every excuse possible to deny rights to women in this country, to minorities in this country. And folks literally had to march and fight and struggle to allow there to be laws that govern equal protection.
My parents and grandparents have stories of being denied the ability to stop at restaurants traveling across country or use restrooms or bathrooms, had people look down on them and said their associations, that the Bible didn't justify their associations. We as a society now reject that kind of bigotry and hate. As your president, I will actively -- as much as people who are activists who fought for that equality for black Americans, I'll fight for it with the same ferocity, with the same sense of urgency every single day for LGBTQ Americans. I will stand up and call this country to remember that patriotism is love of country and you cannot love your country unless you love all of your countrymen and women. And love is not a sentiment. It is not saccharin. It is not anemic. Love demands sacrifice and service and the understanding that if your rights are denied, then my rights are compromised. That's the kind of leadership I will provide in the White House." (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
- QUESTION: We know that the Civil Rights legislation did not end racism, and we know that the Equality Act will not end homophobia, transphobia or bias. As a leader, what will you do to change hearts and minds across the country to have true equity, safety and inclusion?
BOOKER: Thank you very much, Rachel. So King spoke to this, Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement that says I can't pass a law to make someone love me, but I can stop them from lynching me. I can't pass a law to change the heartless, but I can change -- pass laws to restrain their violent actions. And I don't want to discount how important it is to have a federal government to stand up and say we affirm the rights and dignities -- and those are not just words -- of all Americans. We're going to do those in actions from the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, we will stand up.
But my whole life as a kid that was raised to understand that my rights and privileges are not enshrined in the Constitution., originally, heck, African-Americans were fractions of human beings. I'm here because people of all races and all backgrounds fought to affirm the right to African-Americans and stand up for them. As a college student working at a crisis counseling center with the focus on LGBTQ youth, as a mayor at a time that my own party was passing things like the Defense of Marriage Act and saying they still had to evolve on the issue. As mayor of my city, the second flag I raised was the pride flag and I said I wouldn't conduct any marriages until everyone could be married. You can be sure that as president of the United States, I will be focused every day, not just on executing the laws of the land that should protect all, but I will be setting an example that we are a nation of love of all people, and you can't lead the people if you don't love the people, all the people. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
- “It is absolutely unacceptable that you can live in a country where you can be denied work, employment, and public accommodations just because of who you are. It is repugnant to the ideas we hail. This Equality Act is directly going to address those issues. It is going to make sure that in the inclusive arc of this nation that we all can stand together, and some people won’t be left out without the cover of law. (3/27/19, HRC)
Securitization and Surveillance
Booker is an original co-sponsor of the Algorithmic Accountability Act:
"50 years ago my parents encountered a practice called 'real estate steering' where black couples were steered away from certain neighborhoods in New Jersey. With the help of local advocates and the backing of federal legislation they prevailed. However, the discrimination that my family faced in 1969 can be significantly harder to detect in 2019: houses that you never know are for sale, job opportunities that never present themselves, and financing that you never become aware of -- all due to biased algorithms.... This bill requires companies to regularly evaluate their tools for accuracy, fairness, bias, and discrimination. It's a key step toward ensuring more accountability from the entities using software to make decisions that can change lives." (4/10/2019, Senate Office Press Release)
- Booker is a co-sponsor of the DREAMer Confidentiality Act (1/22/2019, The Hill).
QUESTION: Thanks for being here. On June 12, 2016, I was present as a man with an assault weapon murdered 49 mostly LGBTQ people of color at Pulse nightclub. I was very lucky to make it out. Unfortunately, my friends were not. That night we were reminded that LGBTQ people, specifically those of color are often, too often, the targets of hate violence. With the rise of violence against transwomen of color, how will you ensure that law enforcement is equipped to treat marginalized victims of crime with dignity and respect?
BOOKER: So first of all, very clearly, it is a national emergency, the majority of the terrorist attacks in this country since 9/11 had been right-wing extremist groups and the majority of them had been white supremacist and hate groups. And I will elevate, as president of the United States, an office on hate crimes and white supremacy to make sure it is a presidential level effort to protect our country as a whole, but I'm not stopping there. We need a Department of Justice that recognizes this is a problem and investigates hate crimes.
We must -- we must take the steps necessary to keep these weapons out of the hands of people that are doing those crimes, but we can't stop there. Thirty percent of LGBTQ youth, 30 percent have reported missing school in the last month because of fears for their physical safety. We live in a country where we still see regular, everyday violence and intimidation and bullying against Americans because of who they are. And so, number one, I am going to appoint a secretary of education, first of all, that sees the dignity and the worth and the value of every one of our children. And I will have a Department of Education that takes the steps necessary to protect all children in America. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
DAVIS: Senator Booker, you have said, quote, "The real question isn't who is or isn't a racist. It's who is going to do something about it." Senator, what do you plan to do about it?
BOOKER: Well, first and foremost, I want to hit that point, because we know Donald Trump's a racist, but there is no red badge of courage for calling him that. Racism exists. The question isn't who isn't a racist. It's who is and isn't doing something about racism. And this is not just an issue that started yesterday. It's not just an issue that we hear a president that can't condemn white supremacy. We have systemic racism that is eroding our nation from health care to the criminal justice system. And it's nice to go all the way back to slavery, but dear God, we have a criminal justice system that is so racially biased, we have more African-Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850. We have to come at this issue attacking systemic racism, having the courage to call it out, and having a plan to do something about it. If I am president of the United States, we will create an office in the White House to deal with the problem of white supremacy and hate crimes. And we will make sure that systemic racism is dealt with in substantive plans, from criminal justice reform to the disparities in health care to even one that we don't talk about enough, which is the racism that we see in environmental injustice in communities of color all around this country. (9/12/2019, third Democratic debate transcript at ABC)
Candidate Cory Booker's "Plan to Confront Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence:"
Improve federal and local policies and response
Hate crimes are vastly underreported in America. We won’t succeed in reducing hate crimes and violence motivated by white supremacy without improving the response of federal and local authorities and fostering better communication and collaboration with impacted communities. As president, Cory will:
- Create a White House Office on Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence to bring together federal agencies and community organizations to improve upon and coordinate the federal response and ensure that dedicated resources are addressing hate crimes and to helping victims and impacted communities.
- Improve reporting of hate crimes by helping local law enforcement agencies establish policies and training for officers on how to identify, investigate, and report crimes, as required in the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act.
- Improve how the federal government collects and records data on domestic terrorism and how the federal government addresses it by increasing the coordination, transparency, and accountability of these processes, including requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit annual reports.
- Require that the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conduct assessments of the threats posed by white supremacists and report out annually to Congress and the public.
- Direct the FBI and DOJ to provide updated guidance on the nature and severity of the white supremacist threat to state and local law enforcement and to create joint state and federal task forces to share information about, monitor and investigate activity, and prosecute white supremacist crime.
- Direct the FBI to reinstate the specific white supremacist designation and end the misleading “racially motivated violent extremism” category, which will help ensure that the FBI’s classification system accurately captures the threat of white supremacist violence.
- Mandate and improve the reporting of hate crimes to the DOJ by state and local law enforcement agencies.
- Pass and sign into law Cory’s Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which would make lynching a federal crime for the first time.
- Require the DOJ and FBI to prioritize resources to address acts of violence and mass violence motivated by white supremacy, in the same way they prioritize international terrorism.
- Increase resources and staffing at the DOJ Civil Rights Division to strengthen investigations, training and coordination to address hate crimes.
Empower and support communities and victims of hate crimes
Hate crimes create fear and distrust, which isolate victims and entire communities. We must address these barriers to make it safer and easier for victims to report crimes and for communities to access and direct resources where and how they will be most effective. As president, Cory will:
- Create an external advisory group of community stakeholders impacted by hate crimes to share information with and advise the White House, as well as DOJ, FBI and DHS officials working to investigate and address hate crimes.
- Invest in grant programs at federal agencies including the DOJ, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Labor that help heal and empower victims that have experienced hate crimes and acts of violence in their communities, schools, and workplaces.
- Ensure that immigrants can access law enforcement and emergency health care without fear by directing the Department of Justice to expand the list of “sensitive locations” so that all immigrants and their families can carry out basic activities and access crucial services without fear of arrest, detainment, or deportation.
Address hate online
Social media and other online platforms are being used as forums for the spread of hate, fear, and violence. More must be done to limit the use of these forums to spread violence, while ensuring the protection of First Amendment rights. As president, Cory will:
- Improve existing infrastructure and tools within DOJ to ensure that efforts focused on violence by white supremacists include online threats and recruitment.
- Reduce the spread of hate and online radicalization by working with social media and online platforms on strategies like civil rights audits that improve transparency and accountability to keep communities safe from white supremacist threats, consistent with the First Amendment.
- Create grants for higher education institutions to study and research hate crimes and models for prevention, including white supremacist recruitment online.
Work with international partners and internet platforms to address violent extremism on the internet around the world.
“A recent report found that in New York City alone, there has been an 83% rise in hate crimes. Synagogues are being vandalized, Pride flags burned, people of color targeted. It's a good time to remind folks that it's not enough to claim you're not a bigot—you must be anti-bigotry.” (6/11/2019, Twitter)
- "A fire was intentionally set to the Diyanet Mosque in New Haven during Ramadan. Crimes like this are meant to terrify & intimidate. But it won't work. Islamophobia is reprehensible, and we will defend our Muslim brothers & sisters in the face of hate" (5/14/2019, Twitter)
"For over a century, members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is: a bias-motivated act of terror. And for more than a century, and more than 200 attempts, this body has failed. Today, we have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history. This bill will not undo the damage, the terror, and the violence that has been already done, nor will it bring back the lives that have been brutally taken. It will not reverse the irrevocable harm that lynching as a tool of oppression and suppression has caused. But it will acknowledge the wrongs in our history. It will honor the memories of those so brutally killed. And it will leave a legacy that future generations can look back on – that on this day, in this time, we did the right thing.” (1/19/2018, Booker.senate.gov)
Criminal Justice Reform
- “You know when I got to the United States Senate going back to what De Blasio said as an African-American man in an African-American dominated community I knew one of the biggest issues was criminal justice reform from police accountability to dealing with the fact that we have a nation that has more African Americans under criminal supervision then all of the slaves in eighteen fifty and when I got to the Senate people told me we could not get a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill done. As my colleagues in the Senate know I fought on that bill from the day I got to the Senate, built coalitions across the aisle and today we passed the first step fact. Is not as far as I want to go but thousands of people will be liberated.” (6/26/19, First Presidential Debate, transcript in The New York Times)
- "As president, I will act immediately... starting by initiating a clemency process for thousands of nonviolent drug offenders who have been handed unjust sentences by their government. Granting clemency won’t repair all the damage that has been done by the War on Drugs and our broken criminal justice system, but it will help our country confront this injustice and begin to heal.” (6/20/19, The Medium)
- Cory Booker’s Restoring Justice Initiative
Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use
- BASH: Senator, I want to follow up with you. You've talked about your brother's child and you have said that your brother's child is a transactivist. How has that shaped your views on this topic?
BOOKER: Well, I have to express a little frustration sometimes where people evolve on issues because suddenly they visit upon their own lives and they say when I found out that I had an LGBTQ child, suddenly I became in favor of these issues. If we wait for our empathy to expand in that way we will never get to being the nation of liberty and justice for all, you know?
If you're a man and you see assaults on the rights of not just women, but the rights of people that control their own body, you shouldn't say because I have a wife or a daughter -- no. You are a human being. You have a body. You should be able to understand as King said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and so my views have -- have not evolved because of family members, they've evolved because they are Rustin (ph) James Baldwin, proud, guy Americans stood for my rights. It's because people of all backgrounds, I was taught as a Christian, I was taught that we must bring forth the radical love of all people and that's what has always made me be an advocate for justice and I will continue to be so regardless of the incredibly beautiful, wonderful family they have. (10/10/2019, CNN Equality in America Town Hall)
- "When racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism exists, it's not enough to say, "I'm not a bigot." You must be an anti-bigot. You must be an anti-racist. You must work against it." (6/11/2019, Twitter)
- "This is a scourge of humanity- bigotry and hate. And I know that the presidency is not just a political position, it is a moral one, and we must have a president that will condemn hate, that will condemn anti-semitism, that will condemn bigotry and that will lead by example every day by trying to create a more nurturing, a more caring, a more courageous empathy, a revival of civic grace, a president who stands up for the ideals of love. (6/11/2019, Twitter)
"You don’t belong here. You’re not one of us. Go back to where you came from. We've heard this our whole lives. Now we hear it from the Oval Office. If you're sick of it too, support the women who are leading the fight against Trump every day in Congress. https://secure.actblue.com/directory/all/candidate/fed-house" (7/14/19, Twitter)
- “This is a guy [President Trump] who is worse than a racist. He is actually using racist tropes and racial language for political gains, trying to use this as a weapon to divide our nation against itself, and this is somebody who is very similar to George Wallace who -- a racist -- he's using the exact same language... Somebody texted me during one of his rallies, “I’ve seen this before in black and white and now I’m seeing it again, decades later where I thought out country was beyond this. I’m seeing this in full color,” So, this election in many ways is yet another chapter in American history. We’ve seen it with the Know Nothing party, which was trying to stop Irish and German immigrants. We’ve seen this with McCarthyism. We have a demagogue fear meandering person who is using race to divide, and this is a referendum. Not on him, but it’s a referendum on the heart and soul of the country. Who are we going to be each other?” (7/21/19, CNN)
“My immigration policies will reflect our values. We should have the facilities and resources to honor immigrants' human dignity.” (7/3/19, Twitter)
“It’s encouraging that Chairman Graham has agreed to hold a hearing on the abuses, overcrowding, and unsanitary conditions plaguing detention facilities across the country. The Trump Administration has exasperated the immigration crisis by using fear-mongering tactics that dehumanize and criminalize migrants. This administration’s immigration policy of cruelty has created humanitarian chaos on our southern border, separated families, physically harmed kids, and forced immigrants into solitary confinement. It’s important that this hearing seriously tackles the multitude of issues stemming from President Trump’s xenophobic immigration agenda by including a wide range of expert testimony, including witnesses with medical, legal, and international human rights expertise. This hearing should not be limited to political appointees.” (7/11/19, Booker.senate.gov)
- “On day one I will make sure that number one, we end the ICE policies and the customs and border policies are violating the human rights. When people come to their—this country they do not leave their human rights at the border. Number two, I will make sure that we reinstate DACA, that we reinstate pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients and to make sure that people who are here on temporary protected status can stay and remain here. And then finally, we need to make sure that we address the issues that made Oscar and Valeria come in the first place by making major investments in the Northern Triangle. Not like this president is doing by ripping away the resources we need to actually solve this problem. We cannot surrender our values and think that we are going to get border security. We actually will lose security and our values. We must fight for both.” (6/26/19, First Democratic Debate, transcript in The New York Times)
- “ICE are ripping away parents from their American children, spouses and the like. And are creating fear in cities all across this country where parents are afraid to even drop their kids off to school or go to work. We must end those policies as well.” (6/26/19, first Democratic Debate, transcript in The New York Times)
“We need to have an immigration plan that has pathways to citizenship and doesn’t create broad-scale fear.” (6/23/19, MSNBC)
- “People in border communities know that none of our families made it to where we are on our own — not mine, not yours, and not President Trump’s. We all had a helping hand, support from strangers and friends. All of our ancestors experienced acts of grace, mercy, and forgiveness and countless small acts of kindness. Right now in the border crisis, there are agents of love and agents of fear. My hope is that we don’t let fear and the hate it yields divide us beyond repair. Despite the heartbreak I saw at the border, I will always have faith that in America, ultimately, love prevails.” (7/19/18, Vox)
- “President Trump’s abhorrent immigration policies stand in stark contrast to America’s most fundamental ideals,” Booker said. “The human toll of the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies are staggering: mothers and fathers separated from their children with no plan to reunite them; families who pose no threat to public safety warehoused in detention facilities, diverting critical taxpayer resources away from combating real threats; people fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries denied the ability to legally claim asylum in the United States. America has been a beacon of freedom and hope to the world for generations, and our immigration policies need to reflect these values.” (6/28/2018, Booker.senate.gov)
“DREAMers are productive members of society who contribute positively to our communities and boost our economy. Shutting the door of American opportunity and sending them back to countries they barely know is cruel, unjust, and flies in the face of what our country stands for.” (9/5/17, Booker.senate.gov)
- Cory Booker's Immigration Reform Plan
NO BAN Act
Cory Booker is a co-sponsor of the NO BAN Act, S1123.
- "Since 1975, zero Americans have been killed in terror attacks on US soil by foreigners from the 7 nations included in Trump's Muslim ban." (1/20/2017, Twitter)
- On the November 2019 Gaza flare-up "I strongly condemn the rocket attacks against Israel. Our security aid to Israel ensured the damage wasn’t worse—that support must continue. But with each senseless act of violence, more innocent lives are lost. As a new ceasefire takes hold, I urge restraint & calm in the area." (11/14/19, Twitter).
Interviewer: “Do you believe the Occupation is a human rights crisis for Palestinians and a violation of international law?”
Booker: “You’re not going to get me to address that question as you want and I know that that’s a question that you’ve been asking every presidential candidate. But I’m working on this issue probably more than any other foreign policy issue.
Interviewer: “Well that’s really disappointing because people are suffering and we need leadership and as a Jew...
Booker: “Have you been to Israel?”
Interviewer: “I have.”
Booker: “So you and I both know that suffering firsthand.”
Interviewer: “Which is why I need to see leadership to end the occupation to create a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Booker: “If that’s your issue I would understand if you want to support somebody else, but just know I am just as committed to that as you are.” (7/14/19, Twitter)
- “I think we have a problem right now in America with the way that we are debating issues surrounding Israel and Israel’s security. We have a president that seems to not support this idea of a two-state solution, which has had bipartisan commitment and conviction over decades in our past. My commitment right now is to affirming Israel’s right to exist, affirming Israel’s right to defend itself against enemies which they have virtually surrounding them, but also to affirm the dignity and self-determination of Palestinian people. I believe that we can get back to the kind of policies that affirm that two-state solution, affirm human rights, and that America can be a force to accomplishing that in Israel.” (6/20/19, The New York Times)
- “I do not support BDS. To me, I think, there are elements in the BDS movement that want to destroy the state of Israel, that are engaged in things that will undermine Israel’s ability to survive, to exist, to protect itself. Israel is a democratic ally of ours in a region that is surrounded by nations, many of them who are doing things to suppress minorities, violate rights in a way that should be calling on all of us to say, ‘Look what you are doing to your minorities, to gays and lesbians, look what you are doing to women.’ But yet people seem to be focused on a state that is a democratic state, that has Muslims on its Supreme Court, Muslims in its legislature. And I support the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself. But I also support the rights of Palestinians — the human rights of the Palestinians… this administration is pulling back the resources necessary, pulling back a commitment to a two-state solution — because just as much as the Israelis have a right to self-determination, so do Palestinians. But I am sorry, this BDS movement is something that I do not support, and I think that we should do what we can to protect American companies, and other Americans, from being attacked in a way that undermines their ability to stand up for what they believe is right. That is where I stand.” (6/10/19, Mondoweiss)
- "Israel is not political to me. It’s not political. I was a supporter of Israel well before I was a United State Senator. I was coming to AIPAC conferences well before I knew that one day I would be a federal officer. [invoking Biblical text:] If I forget thee, o Israel, may I cut off my right hand." (3/30/19, The Intercept)
- “We have to, as a nation, work in coordination with our allies to denuclearize Iran and to bring stability and peace back to that region because Iran is a serious threat. I would rejoin with our allies. I would work to renegotiate and get us back into a place where we are standing together with our allies and have like we had before which was a 10 to 20-year runway and transparency and vision into their enrichment processes to make sure that they're abiding by an anti-nuclear deal.” (6/23/19, ABC News)
- “First and foremost, it was a mistake to pull out of that deal. And one of the reasons why we are seeing this hostility now is because Donald Trump is marching us to a far more dangerous situation. Literally, he took us out of the deal that gave us transparency into their nuclear program and push back a nuclear breakout 10—20 years. And now we see Iran threatening to go further and who are pulled—being pulled in further and further into this crisis. We need to greet renegotiate and get back into a deal, but I’m not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I’m going to rejoin that deal because when I am president of the United States, I’m going to do the best I can to secure this country and that region and make sure that if I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, I’m going to do it.” (6/26/19, First Democratic Debate, transcript in The New York Times)
U.S. Presence in the Arab World
- “America’s morals are not for sale. America’s values are not for sale and we need to stand up for who we are as a country.”(6/18/2018, Yahoo)
- “I hope that whoever ever holds that presidential office stands as a moral leader nationally and globally and not somebody that would compromise for arms sales.” (6/18/2018, Yahoo)
- “I just want you to know I think it is right that there’s such a response and frustration about that,” [Booker said of the reaction to Khashoggi’s disappearance.]“But you have to understand, I have been critical of the Saudis for a long time, say, for example, what’s going on in Yemen right now, which is a humanitarian disaster. This is one man that died gruesomely, which is horrific, and we should condemn it and what’s happening right now to thousands — tens of thousands of people, children in Yemen right now, massive famine, humanitarian disaster.” (6/18/2018, Yahoo)
- “We need to reexamine that entire relationship[with Saudi Arabia]. We need to be a nation that leads the moral light of the world, not retreats from our morals.” (6/18/2018, Yahoo)