Newark Mayor Corey Booker, feels that it’s “all hands on deck” for the upcoming Presidential election.
Booker was in Tampa Saturday night to speak at the Democratic Kennedy-King dinner along with key Florida Democrat figures including Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink. The event was mainly focused on the re-election of President Barack Obama, all while touting Democrat successes in Florida and the importance of preventing a Romney White House.
Prior to the event Mayor Booker spoke to local news outlets, including Creative Loafing, primarily about the importance of getting out the vote for President Obama as well as other issues ranging from New Jersey-based to national.
The “I-4 corridor" is viewed by both parties as one of the most pivotal regions in winning the Presidential election this year. Booker spent time earlier in the day in East Tampa in an effort to encourage voters to register before the deadline of October 9th.
“There’s an October 9 deadline there’s an urgency out in the air, this is going to be one of the most competitive elections we’ve seen in a long time. The state of Florida I believe is going to decide it. You can sit on the sidelines and think democracy is a spectator sport, or you can get in the game....This is the state where it really matters.”
Booker also focused on the importance of Hillsborough County to the Florida race, while praising Tampa democratic leaders.
“This is one of those counties that stood up in the 2008 election (Hillsborough) . It went a deep shade of royal blue it’s going to be a pivotal county in many ways..it’s bigger than many states we have in America , this is a very important place to be . I’m really proud that I was invited in by the community here and I’m just really impressed by the leaders.”
Booker touched on a few other topics through the interview including his rumored run for Governor of New Jersey, joking that he already “broke his foot tap dancing” around the issue noting that his main focus for the next 45 days is supporting Obama and to “do the job I was elected to do.”
There’s been some doubt that President Obama will have the same turnout as his victory in 2008, and the Democrats have put a large focus on fighting voter apathy as evidenced by Booker’s efforts to encourage registration.
“Whether you’re an elderly Latino, a middle aged Jew, whether you’re a middle aged African American, whether you’re a bi-sexual, bilingual, bionic person, we need for you to vote in this election.”
Booker was the keynote speaker of the Kennedy-King Dinner, after being introduced by Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The focus seemed mainly on getting the rather receptive crowd going, telling accounts of his life that he thinks represented the American spirit, emphasizing the kindness of others and surprisingly heavily on faith, this just weeks after the Democratic Platform came into question for not having any mention of God in Charlotte.
Booker mainly touted the points made in the press conference earlier, specifically the importance of getting out the vote for President Obama in the upcoming election. He noted that this was a group that wouldn’t need any encouragement to vote for the president, saying that he wasn’t “preaching to the choir” he was “preaching to the preachers”. Booker spoke of events in his life from the humorous to the serious, relating them to the importance of the upcoming election.
One of his anecdotes detailed a mad rush to make a plane in time, running through an airport to make his flight. Citing that “nothing is impossible”, the mayor made the plane in time while getting moved to first class. The only issue he joked was that it was the wrong flight. He went on to use this as an analogy towards the Romney campaign.
“I was first class but I was headed in the wrong direction!” Booker said to laughs and applause, he went on to compare the story to Governor Romney.
“There are some people from a party that shall remain nameless, that are trying to talk about our country being first class but they want to steer us in the wrong direction…those few people in the front of the plane with the spacious seats..and forget that wherever that plane is going we’re all going there together.”
The mayor went on to touch on the importance of democratic involvement, once again referring to politics as sport.
“The question this election must be where are we? Too many of us think democracy is a spectator sport. Well it’s not. Too many of us are getting caught up in what I like to call a state of sedentary agitation. So we sit around (becoming angry) at what we see on Fox News, without realizing they should be the ones getting up and doing something about it” Booker said. “We’ve got to let people know that this election should already be won”
As mentioned earlier the mayor’s primary focus on the campaign trail is registering potential voters by the October 8th deadline, something he stressed the importance of to those present.
“To me October 9th is the important date in Florida, because there are hundreds of thousands of Floridians that agree with us, that believe in what the President believes in, that know the direction of our country. But they’re staying out of the game, on the sidelines. We can’t let them stay there.”
Booker ended on a somber note, recounting the story of watching a young man die in his arms after a shooting in the crime-ridden housing project in Newark he lived in prior to becoming mayor. The message was one of having courage, citing the project’s administrator who continued carrying on with her duties despite seeing events like that one frequently, even the murder of her son.
“I’ve come to realize the definition of courage is not those big moments in life..all of us in here know the real definition of courage is seen in the quiet moments, seen in those days where you face the greatest discouragement.”
The message was of the common man’s potential for change. Booker cited the importance of the people one doesn’t see in history books but without their influence landmark accomplishments like civil rights, and the election of President Obama in his eyes, wouldn’t be possible.
“(You go through) chapter after chapter after chapter of people who’s names are not in the history books, (who) don’t title big dinners. People like you and me who stood up every day with courage and persistency and willed our democracy forward with the sweat of their brow and the labor of their arms. This is what makes America great.”