Cory Booker considering runs for N.J. governor, Senate

(CBS News) Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker did not skirt the question nor pause for a moment when asked if he had aspirations for higher office. Booker said he is considering running for either the New Jersey Senate seat or governor.

"I am absolutely considering running for governor, as well as giving other options some consideration." Booker said on CBS News' "Face the Nation." He added that he is also considering a run for Senate.

Booker, should he be the Democratic nominee for governor, would run against current governor Chris Christie, who's approval ratings reached 67 percent in a Monmouth University poll last week.

Booker, however, said he needs to decide "in the next few weeks" if he is going to make the move. "[T]here are a lot of very good candidates for governor in New Jersey on the Democratic side and I have to give my party and be a part of my party's push forward, whether me as a candidate or supporting other candidates for that office."

If he instead chooses to run for Senate, it would be for current Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat. Lautenberg is the oldest sitting senator and would be 90 years old on Election Day in 2014, but he has not announced plans to retire.

Democrats consider Booker a rising star - a young African-American politician who has made national news for a range of reasons, including his efforts to turn around crime in his city and for running into a burning building to save a neighbor. He is also an avid conversationalist on Twitter, which led him to a food stamp challenge in which he is currently living off $30 dollars worth of food for one week, the amount the average 46 million food stamp recipients receive. He called it "very challenging."

"I had an apple for breakfast. I burnt a sweet potato and couldn't go out and buy another one because it wasn't on my budget so I cut around the burned part and had a sweet potato around lunch time and made a casserole with broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and peas and nursed that over a couple hours. I found I could stave off hunger if I ate a spoonful and came back to it," Booker said.

"Even going to Starbucks and buying a cup of coffee is more than my daily food allows right now," Booker said. "I'm thoroughly uncaffeinated right now. And it's a terrible state of human existence. I don't see how people do it."

As for the "fiscal cliff," Booker said there's "an immediate fear" among people in his city that their taxes could go up by $2,000 for the middle class if Congress doesn't act. "For many families, not only in my city, but across our state, a couple of thousands dollars could be the difference between making that mortgage payment, being able to afford food and making critical investments during every month," he said.

"This is not time for the Republicans to hold the country hostage again, really at this point, holding it hostage to protect a couple of percent of our population."

Booker, whose city and state was impacted by Hurricane Sandy, said the country can't afford serious cuts in investments to things such as infrastructure. "This is not a time to be penny-wise and pound-foolish," he said.

Sandy "really exposed how vulnerable and unprepared our infrastructure is in this country," Booker said "And you have storm systems and even heavy rainfalls right now are causes of incredible economic damage. To not invest the pennies now to asset dollars later is also a bad thing to do."

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for