NYT: Booker Says Beating Trump Should Be ‘the Floor, Not the Ceiling’

As Senator Cory Booker swept through Iowa on a four-day visit over Memorial Day weekend, he called on his often overflowing crowds to approach the presidential primary campaign through a new paradigm, the New York Times reported.

“This election, I get a little frustrated, I have to admit to everybody,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a union hall in Burlington on Saturday. “A lot of people want to say this election is just about getting rid of Donald Trump. That’s the floor, not the ceiling.”

Booker was seeking to flip the national narrative, drawing voters to the layered chapters of his political biography: the telegenic liberal mayor of a downtrodden New Jersey city who went on to become a senator and an adversary of President Trump.

But the sheer breadth and diversity of the Democratic field have weighed on Booker, one of his party’s long-rising stars, who had been seen as a possible presidential candidate since he burst onto the scene two decades ago, the Times writes.

Although Booker has stagnated in polls, his focus on Iowa and 30 events held as of Sunday could help him build momentum there.

The trip to Iowa was Booker’s fourth of this campaign, evidence of the need for a strong showing in this first caucus state for any hope of a successful run through to South Carolina, where Booker is hoping for a victory. The entrance of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. into the race puts added pressure on Booker, especially competing for black voters — a major piece of the Democratic constituency in the South, and a group that has largely supported Biden in early polls, the Times added.

Now, stuck in the low single digits in both national and early state polls, with a middling small-dollar fund-raising operation, Booker has started to sprinkle his unity-themed stump speech with some slight contrasts to other Democratic candidates.

“I’m one of those Democrats to say we need to start doing things that make people’s lives better, because Democrats have done things that have made people’s lives worse,” Booker said at a house party in Newton, referring to the 1994 crime bill that Biden supported while he was in the Senate, and which experts say contributed to mass incarceration.

And in calls for party solidarity, he offered a veiled critique of the hesitance of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Though he claims to try to avoid direct attacks on President Trump – “The more attention we give him, the more oxygen he takes,” – Booker said, he has increased his criticisms, including taking a generational swipe at him as he looked ahead to the stakes of the climate change fight “20 years from now, when I’m the age of this current president.”

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