Cory Booker

Cory Booker Is the 'Plug and Play' Democratic Presidential Candidate

In friendly CNN town hall, N.J. senator tells his audience he knows what they want.

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Cory Booker
Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom

This is flat-out the best, most-appropriate headline describing Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's CNN Town Hall last night in Orangeburg, S.C.: "Booker's answers please town hall audience."

That's not a crack or insult against local South Carolina newspaper The Times and Democrat. It is an absolutely accurate summary of both the outcome of the town hall, and subtextually, how its impact should be evaluated.

This is not to say the town hall was substance-free (well, we could have done without discussion of Rosario Dawson as his girlfriend, prodded by extremely friendly and unchallenging CNN host Don Lemon), just that there were very few unexpected moves in this dance: Booker wants more gun control, more government funding for health care, to eliminate the electoral college, more spending on teachers, free community college, and higher caps on Social Security so wealthier people would have to pay in more.

Booker also nimbly dodged a question about Jussie Smollet's entire hate crime hoax case in Chicago to instead push forward the misleading statistic that hate crimes are on the rise. (As Reason's Robby Soave has explained, what's partly happening is that we have a much greater number of law enforcement agencies providing hate crime statistics to the FBI, leading to more accurate accounting.)

Despite saying he's the candidate for "love and unity," Booker made no effort to court Republicans or independents. He instead called for Democrats to work to take control of state legislatures and then later complained about the influence of "Republicans who control state legislators" when it came to crafting education policy. He's apparently in favor of unity to the extent that Americans rally behind every single plank in the Democratic Party platform.

If you were a Democrat, Booker's answers were probably comfort food. He is a "plug and play" candidate who's programmed with all the right things to say, with just the right tone and passion, to appeal to Democratic voters without being overly aggressive, even as he sets forth a vision that probably half of the American population does not support.

There were a few notable moments for non-Democrats:

  • Booker is truly leaning into marijuana legalization and the expungement of marijuana convictions as a central part of his campaign. He spoke passionately about how unequal enforcement of marijuana laws has and continues to devastate urban minority communities. He was not, unfortunately, asked to weigh in on the fact that his home state of New Jersey is struggling to try to decriminalize.
  • When pressed about his previous support for school choice and charter programs, he did not back down, but he did redirect to pushing for more spending for public schools and student loan debt forgiveness for public school teachers. He says he wants all options available, and wants public schools to be a competitive choice.
  • He refused to bite when a voter insisted she wanted him to impeach President Donald Trump regardless of the fact that the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not determine that Trump or his aides had coordinated with Russian nationals to try to meddle with the 2016 presidential election. He insisted that he would wait for the Mueller report to be released, and he called for it to be made public in full.

If Booker was trying to assure a Democratic audience that he is a passionate believer in pretty much every single thing they believe, he did a good job. Whether that's a winning strategy for the Democratic primary—to say nothing of the general election—is another issue entirely.

NEXT: I Interviewed the Sage of the Alt-Right. No, It's Not Ben Shapiro.

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  1. A Rosario Dawson in every pot.

    1. I like the ‘plug and play’ phrasing. That’s what he should be called. Senator Plug and Play. I’m sure that’s what the guys down at the bathhouse call him.

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    2. He’s not fooling anyone.

    3. He’s not fooling anyone.

    4. He’s not fooling anyone.

    5. ^Zeb supports cannibalism.

      1. It’s just a modest proposal.

  2. Booker is truly leaning into marijuana legalization and the expungement of marijuana convictions as a central part of his campaign.

    There are a few candidates I believe putting forward some variety of legalization (a few disingenuous for certain). If Trump was half as savvy as he thinks he is, he could snatch the platforms away from those candidates by rescheduling marijuana.

    1. by rescheduling marijuana.

      Does that potentially lose him the religious right? Or does it help get his white working class voters from 2016 back to the polls, since a lot of them enjoy weed as well?

      1. Does that potentially lose him the religious right?

        No. There doesn’t seem to be much he could do to lose them. He just has to keep saying he’s against abortion and he’s got that vote locked up.

      2. The religious right isn’t as opposed to drugs as you might think. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century evangelicals were all enjoying laudanum and Pope Leo XIII and later Pope Pius X were both cocaine wine drinkers. Pope Leo appeared on a poster endorsing the cocaine wine and awarded a Vatican gold medal to it’s creator.

        Really, the religious right is usually whatever the dominant cultural paradigms were twenty-five years ago.

  3. well, we could have done without discussion of Rosario Dawson as his girlfriend,

    You misspelled “girlfriend.” It’s spelled B-E-A-R-D

    1. Beat me to it.

      1. You would think Senator Plug and Play would be out and proud. It would make him the belle of the ball with all the SJWs. who would surely fall all over themselves to vote for him to further virtue signal how woke they are.

        1. He wouldn’t carry NJ in a general election if he did.

          1. Really? They aren’t into fags there?

            1. Not since Jim McGreasey was governor.

              Seriously though, he’d lose a lot of the blue-collar vote.

    2. Oysters or snails but no bearded clams.

  4. he did redirect to pushing for more spending for public schools and student loan debt forgiveness for public school teachers.

    How about the opposite? Only hire as teachers those who were smart enough to pay off their student loans?

    No, instead, let’s put all the bums and parasites in charge of indoctrinating the next generation of kids too stupid to avoid student loans for gender studies degrees.

  5. So much effort on weed. Yes it should be legal and I don’t use it. But really anyone who wants to use it can for the most part. Let’s go after bigger issues please.

    1. Well, it’s a big issue if you’re in jail for it

      1. Many of the government abuses related to the drug war are because of an effort to eradicate weed.

  6. The guy who got censured by his own city council when he was mayor of Newark (even though he may not have even lived there at the time) wants to be president. And Newark isn’t exactly a shining example of what a modern city should be.

    And I always have to link to his Senate debate highlights. Booker-Lonegan

  7. He’s apparently in favor of unity to the extent that Americans rally behind every single plank in the Democratic Party platform.

    Sounds like my kind of Democrat. (OK, sure, I probably disagree with him on the minimum wage.)

  8. Does anyone really watch these objectivly anymore? I mean every time they have a town hall some new gaffe comes out. Stack the questions…check, hand pick activist questioners…check, friendly host to cheer you on….check

  9. “In friendly CNN town hall, N.J. senator tells his audience he knows what they want.”

    I want Cory Booker to go fuck himself.

    1. Ken, suspect he would be more interested in you doing that to him instead.

  10. God he’s such a rudderless blatherer, just like all of them. I like the marijuana thing but this is not a brave or interesting position to have these days.

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  13. Plug and Play and Buttigieg Too”. Could be a campaign slogan.

  14. I can’t get over his “I am Spartacus” moment.

    The whole point of saying “I am Spartacus” is not to be Spartacus.

    I don’t get it.

    1. “I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a Supreme Court candidate before I voted against him.”

  15. Rosario ~ If Bookworm won’t eat your ass, give me a holla and I’ll toss yer salad like a late nite Popeil commercial.

  16. Leave Spartacus on the side of the road.

  17. Cory Booker is just incredibly dumb, end of the campaign.

  18. He’s the same shade of black as Obama. We’re gonna pretend that’s not the beginning and end of the reasons he generates any publicity at all? His campaign is

    a) Be black.
    b) Don’t mess it up.

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