Cory Booker – A White House Bid Based on Inclusiveness and Courageous Empathy | The Daily Show


-Welcome back to the show.
-It is good to be back here. -It’s been a year.
-It has been a year. And a lot has changed
in that year. You are running for president
of the United States. You’re in the Democratic
primary. Let’s start with, um, something that you’ve managed
to do that nobody else seems to have managed to do in the
Democratic field, and that is, everyone agreed
in the beginning to be nice. -Everyone said, “This is a race
about great ideas.” -Yes. “And we all agree on many
things, so we will be nice.” And then, two debates in,
people were like, “You’re a moron! And you’re this
and you’re that.” And you’ve been very vocal
in saying like, “No, I’m still
not gonna do that.” -How’s that going for you?
-Um, look. -(laughs) We’re…
-(laughter) We’re-we’re trying
to beat Donald Trump, who is darkness, who is hate. And one of my greatest heroes,
King said, you know, “Darkness can’t drive out
darkness. “Only light can do that. Hate can’t drive out hate.
Only love can do that.” -(applause and cheering)
-And-and this is the mistake I think we make in this country,
is to think to be tough, you’ve got to be mean, to think to be strong,
you’ve got to be cruel. But we’ve taken on demagogues
and bigots and fearmongers. Every generation of America
has had that. The… I would say
the gardens of our democracy have never been free
of those weeds. McCarthyism,
the-the Know-Nothing Party, which was anti-immigration–
same language that Trump uses. But how do we beat them
in every generation? Like, we didn’t beat Bull Connor
by bringing bigger dogs and bigger firehoses
and being like him. We beat him because
these artists of activism were the exact opposite. They fought his firehoses
and dogs with unarmed truth and relentless, fearsome,
ferocious love, and ignited the moral
imagination of this country and brought more people
together. But do you think that that is what is driving
the populace right now? -Because it feels like…
-Oh, well… It feels like
sentiment right now is-is very much, we’re fighting. -Yeah.
-People must be fighting. You know, and as you said, -the fighting must be
from a negative place. -Right. It’s-it’s not fighting for good, but rather,
fighting against a thing. And you said, you’re fighting to beat Donald Trump,
but you want to do that with kindness.
So what does that mean? -Well… -He snaps you,
and then you hug him? -How does that work?
-No, no, look. -(laughter) First of all,
most people who actually know about my career know
that I beat the toughest, vicious political machine. There’s an Oscar-nominated
documentary you can watch on YouTube,
uh, called Street Fight, about me coming up through
the tough, urban politics. Through…
Death threats on my life, windows on my car smashed,
phones tapped. So I’ve seen
the toughest of politics, but we beat them
and that machine, not by being like the machine. Uh, by giving an alternative -and not making it about them.
-Mm. This campaign shouldn’t be
about what we’re against. It should be
about what we’re for. It shouldn’t be about, uh,
you know… Even, I say this
to Democrats right now. This is not a moment
in American history that the goal
of this party is… the end goal is not
to beat Republicans. It should be to unite Americans,
and the way you do that… -(applause and cheering)
-is by calling to the best of who we are. Look, I-I love this…
And it’s not easy. My-my campaign staff told me, you know,
when we started this out. The polls were,
“Yeah, we want somebody -that’s gonna go out there.”
-Right. And-and so, I-I still remember
running for a debate stage in Iowa,
and I’m about to jump up. Big guy sees me, uh, uh,
before the stage. I’m a big guy.
And he stops me. He goes, “Dude, I want you to
punch Donald Trump in the face.” -(laughter)
-And… and I look at him. I don’t miss a beat, and I go,
“Dude, that’s a felony.” And… you know,
we’re not gonna beat him -by being like him.
-Right. And-and… and that doesn’t mean
we’re weak. Look, th-this is really one
of those moments, I think, that this election is not
a referendum on who he is, one guy in one office. It’s a referendum
on who we are. And this is a moment
in America where people are fighting
over chicken sandwiches. -(laughter)
-We need… we-we need… -We need a revival
of civic grace. -Mm-hmm. We need a more courageous
empathy for each other. We need to see each other, because too many of us
feel left out and left be-behind. This… Let me… let me ask you then
about the… about the, um… the op ed
that-that… that you penned. Um, you wrote an op ed
talking about what the Democratic party needs
in particular. And, you know, in no uncertain
terms, you have basically said that the Democratic party is
a diverse party, and you feel that
the Democratic leadership needs to reflect that, right? But right now,
it-it’s no secret that the people leading in the
polls, uh, happen to be white. And you’re saying,
the party needs to be diverse -in who it picks to lead it.
-Yeah. But-but what does that mean? ‘Cause I’m-I’m always confused
by that, when-when people say it,
because I go like, “Diverse should mean that white
could be in the lead.” -Yeah. If everyone is-is focused
in the same direction, yes? Well, let me make this point
two ways. Number one– everybody’s talking about what
I’m gonna do when I’m president. I came
to the United States Senate, fourth black person
ever elected, popularly to that office. And I got there,
and I was shocked. I was like, “Wait a minute. This is the least diverse place
I’ve ever worked.” I looked
at the-the judiciary committee, and I could barely find
a black person, uh, even on a staff position. These folks are making decisions
about laws that disproportionally
affect black people. So I went to Chuck Schumer with a great young senator
named Brian Schatz, and we said, “Chuck, can you make
every Democratic senator have “to publish the diversity
statistics on their staff? Reveal how many diverse–
gender and race diversity?” And guess what’s happened
to gender and race diversity on our staffs?
It’s actually increased. Well, I know
from Harvard case studies that diverse teams
are better teams. We are at a point in America
where we have to understand that any great thing we do–
any great thing we do– comes from broader
and bolder coalitions. -Mm-hmm. -When we wanted
to go to the Moon, we had to get “hidden figures”
together with white astronauts. Made us better,
to compete with the Russians, who had put up Sputnik. And so in this
presidential election, I’m tired of hearing people
define electability about how can you recapture
a white voter who might have voted for, uh, -Obama, Trump.
-Barack Obama and switched over. When… Look
at the three midwestern states that we lost by 77,000 votes
combined: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Pick any of them. Wisconsin
alone, in-in Milwaukee, the African American vote
declined from 16, uh, to, uh, from 12 to 16–
it went down about 70,000 votes. And we only lost that state,
I think, by 10,000 votes. -Right.
-We have to have a candidate that has an authentic connection
to the full diversity and can excite and energize
all of who we are, not just one faction
of the party or another. So what you’re saying,
if I understand correctly, is that too much focus
seems to be placed on one specific type of voter. People are saying, like,
how do we win the white middle-class voter
who voted for Trump and Obama, as opposed to saying,
how do we win voters, including black people,
who also didn’t turn out. Because I imagine–
you and I have heard this in the black community before. I live– I’m the only person
in the Senate, only person in this race
that lives in an… African American urban center. And when…
I hear this all the time, people getting cynical
about American politics, that they don’t feel like
people are talking to them. They have a lot
of presidential forums. I went to one speaking to
formerly incarcerated recently. And I was very angry.
I got there– usually, there’s ten, 15…
with 78 candidates running for president right now,
you usually can get a few there. And there’s only three of us,
and I said at the end of that to these
formerly incarcerated people, who face lifetime sentences–
they’re out of prison, but remember, once you have
a criminal conviction for a nonviolent drug crime,
for doing things that two of the last three
presidents admitted to doing, it’s hard to get a job, it’s hard to get a loan
from the bank, it’s hard to make it work
economically. And I just said candidly
to them, I said: Look, the Democratic Party
has been wrong on this issue, and the one thing we need
from a president is somebody
that people can trust is going to fight
for these issues. And that’s what I think
we have to have, is a president
that-that can evoke sort of an authenticity
of spirit with folks to say, “Okay, I believe that you’re
gonna be with us on this.” But then how would you explain, um, you know, polling in places
like, uh, South Carolina, where they polled
African Americans, and then in those…
in that place, you know, it’s Joe Biden at number one,
and then, like, you go down the list, and it’s,
like, Elizabeth Warren, and then it’s Buttigieg
and then it’s Andrew Yang and then it’s you,
how do you explain that? That’s amongst
African American voters. So that’s black people going: No, we’re gonna go
with Joe Biden. Some have said,
“Look, it’s not about you, Cory. We just want to go with the
person who we think can win.” Right.
And-and that’s because right now that’s the number one thing
voters say they want. -We’re all…
-They just want to win. Yeah, and I think
a lot of it’s fear. We don’t want to mess this up,
but we don’t do things best when we do them out of fear
as a country. we do them best
when we do them out of faith. And so let me tell you
about Obama. He was behind at this point,
this exact point, back in 2007. He was 21 points
behind Hillary Clinton. He was behind,
uh, African American voters in South Carolina
just like I am. In fact, we have never,
in your and my lifetime, in the Democratic Party,
never has someone who’s been at the front
right now in the polls ever gone on to the White House. -Oh, wow.
-It has always been Jimmy Carter polling about one percent now,
Bill Clinton about four percent, Barack Obama 21 points behind. But ultimately what Obama
challenged us for, Kennedy– I can go
through the candidates– is to not make fear-based,
uh, decisions. Let’s be a country that
understands that, dear God, beating Donald Trump
is important, but it’s the floor,
it’s not the ceiling. It gets us out of the valley, it doesn’t get us
to the mountaintop. The-the leaders
that we seem to understand, that can ignite and energize us, are not ones that are the safe
bet, are the ones that call us to something higher
and something greater. I-I’m running not the easy way. I’m not running ’cause I want to
punch Donald Trump in the face. Oh, we’re gonna beat him,
and I look forward to being on a debate stage if he tries
to invade my personal space -and things like that–
I will stand strong. -(laughter) I, you know, I’m a former tight
end for Stanford University. -I could stand strong
against the guy. -(applause) But I’m not running just to…
just to beat Donald Trump. -I’m-I’m running because…
’cause in my community, -Right. before Donald Trump was elected,
we had lots of challenges -in this country.
-Right. So then tell me about some of the policies
that separate you in the field. Because the Democratic Party
has laid out a wide range of policies that people
agree on, uh, to a large extent -but then the details is what…
-Right, well, first of all… So for instance,
let’s say, like, with, um, -with Medicare for all, right?
-Yeah. You are for
Medicare for all, yes? I absolutely believe
the best system in this country -is the single payer system.
-Okay, so would that… would that eliminate
people’s private insurance? No. So this-this is what
I’m saying to you, is that… on issues like this,
we tear each other down over a lot of policy details, when we forget that
the differences between us, because everybody on that stage,
every single one, wants universal health coverage,
every single one. While we’re competing
against somebody who right now is working
in the court system to take away
the Affordable Care Act, to take away
preexisting conditions. Yeah, but how does
the voter choose in the Democratic primary if people do not
distinguish themselves -with their policies?
-Well… -Because I understand what
you’re saying -Yes. Yes. in principal, but how does a
Democratic voter go, like, “Yeah, but I still want to vote
for the person who will enact, what I think,
is the best policy”? Well, first of all,
I want to caution us voters to think that
we’re gonna make a decision by somebody checking every box
on our, on our, on our sort of list
of things that we want. -Interesting. -And I want
to be very serious about that, because, look… (stammering) It’s exciting to me. A lot of people who are my
friends in politics are running. And I’ve learned things
from other people on the stage on policy. I’ve got bills with a lot
of folks on the stage ’cause there’s
a lot of us running. And that’s why I think the
policy issues are important. I-I’m excited
to have been the only one to put out a plan
on child poverty. 170 plans–
We’re not talking about one of the most pressing issues
in our country. I’m happy that I was able to move the field even a bit
on gun licensing. Those are really important. But what we’ve got
to understand is– I don’t know
if you even remember what the policy differences
between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama were
on health care. Because below all
of those policies, to make those things
even possible for the next president,
has to be the president that can best capture the spirit
of this country and build
new American coalitions to make things possible. The next president
of the United States has got to be someone
who can heal this country, remind us that
the lines that divide us are not nearly as strong
as the ties that bind us, and call us to do things that this country
hasn’t been able to do. Because the things
we even agree on right now… We agree, 90% of us, on common sense
gun safety checks. The infrastructure of this
country’s falling apart. China just built 18,000 miles
of high-speed rail. And the busiest rail corridor
in America that goes from Boston to D.C.
through this city– I’m not exaggerating–
runs half an hour slower than it did in the 1960s. We-We agree, we… -Well, steady wins the race.
-Okay. We-We agree
that we love our children, but why are we the only nation
without universal prenatal care? We now lead industrial nations
in infant mortality, maternal mortality,
complications at birth. I could go through the things
that we even agree on that we’re not doing well. So, to me, the issue is,
yeah, I want to talk. I’m a policy wonk. And I love, on the debate stage,
talking about policy, but there’s something
beneath that. Who is the president that can create those
new American coalitions? Not tear down the other side,
but call to them. When I first got to the Senate–
I’m not exaggerating– and I started talking about
criminal justice reform, people in my own party told me you can’t get a big bill passed
that liberates people. They were telling me
about Willie Horton, if people come out of prison,
and I said, “Okay, no. “I’m sorry. I’m gonna start
working– do the hard work of building coalitions
across the aisle. And a few years later,
the only major bipartisan bill to pass under this president,
uh, is The First Step Act that I led on the-on the
Democratic side in the Senate that’s liberated thousands
of people from prison. About 90% of those
are African Americans. This is about
who can get things done. And right now, we’re a country
that is so gridlocked because we hate each other just because we vote
differently. I’m in airports all the time,
and people will come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re that
politician guy.” I go, “Yeah.” He goes,
“What party are you?” Because the next– they’re gonna
judge me by what I say. Everything I say
after I say I’m a Democrat is gonna fall into whether
they believe they should stand with me and believe
what I say or not. That’s not the way
we get big things done. Let me tell you.
The last time I was in
what’s called the skiff. It’s where senators go in a
basement below the Senate to read confidential documents. That’s where no one hangs out
with Ted Cruz. Yes? (laughter) Um, and… (laughs) I’ve got some Ted Cruz stories
I’ll tell you after the show. And the last thing I read was a-a document,
a series of documents about the Russians interference
in our election. And I was, I was– I-I got so
angry when I read one section about one of their strategies
to destroy our democracy, ’cause it reminded me–
I’m a history buff– of what Khrushchev said as how
he was gonna beat America. He said, “We’re not
gonna beat America tanks “or missiles,
we’re gonna beat them ’cause they’re gonna corrupt
from within.” Well, you know
what this document said? The Russians are trying to
make us corrupt from within. They’re gonna try to use
our social media platforms and more to just drive up the
level of hatred in this country. ‘Cause they know no democracy
can function unless we find a way
to put more indivisible into this one nation
under God. Right now we face an existential
crisis in this country where even the things
we agree on, we’re not moving them beyond. And, meanwhile,
in our parent’s generations, we created these coalitions. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t
just black people marching for rights to help liberate
African Americans. Somehow these leaders were able
to get suburban folks, white folks, people of the
whole spectrum to become a new American consciousness
to move us forward. This is a moment in America
where we are at a crossroads. And it’s– The-The choice
isn’t between Donald Trump and not Donald Trump. The choice is are we going
to continue to lead this planet on the issues that matter,
from climate change to setting a standard
for quality of life, or are we going to descend
to be the first generation of Americans where our life
expectancy is going down? Baby boomers, 90% did better
economically than their parents. For millennials,
it’s down to 50-50. Other countries
are looking at things we used to be the best at
and saying, “Ha-ha. We’re going beyond you,” on lowering the cost of college -and the percentage
of college graduates. -Right. And more.
So this is the choice we have. And I’m telling you
it’s not all about Donald Trump. I want to beat him, defeat him. I want to replace him
and get him out of office, but that’s not why I’m running
for president. I’m running president
because I believe in us, and I believe this is the moment
that we, as a country, have to see that we have
common cause and common purpose, ’cause we certainly have
common pain. The president
that can get us there, that’s the one that doesn’t
just beat Donald Trump. It’s the one that gets us
to the mountaintop, and that’s what I believe
our destiny is. (cheering and applause) Powerful words. Good luck to you
in the rest of the race. Thank you. Thank you very much. Senator Cory Booker, everybody.

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