Transcript: Sen. Cory Booker on "Face the Nation," December 1, 2019

"I need help": Booker asks for donations to keep campaign afloat

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Cory Booker that aired Sunday, December 1, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: We will begin, though, with Campaign 2020. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is one of the Democrats trying to win his party's nomination. And welcome, Senator.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: John, It's good to be here.

JOHN DICKERSON: Thanks for coming off the campaign trail for a nanosecond to join us. You have a new ad out and I want to talk about that ad and where we are in American politics today. Your ad comes at a time where your campaign is, you know, struggling to stay alive. You're trying to get on the next debate stage. Your message in the ad, you talk about love and unity. You've talked about that throughout. Is that message not selling? 

SEN. BOOKER: Well, it is in a sense that right now we see from local leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, there's no candidate that has more endorsements than I do from folks that are on the ground trying to make things happen for American people. We see my favorabilitfties now number three in net favorability in Iowa. So it's working it's not translating to people choosing me in the polls. This is why we're pushing more ads and hope people will go to my website, make contributions so we can do more of that. But I didn't get in this election because of any other reason that I thought the most important thing we needed in this country is try to affirm that the lines that divide us are not as strong as the ties that bind us. I'm running for president because I think the next president, especially after this person, has to be a healer, has to get us back to putting indivisible back into this one nation under God, because I see this in Washington. We're so- the partisanship is becoming tribalism. We're hating each other because we vote differently and- and we're not going to be able to get the big things done that we need to get done, like facing down climate change, the health care crisis that still persists. You need new American majorities to get that. And you need a leader that can inspire the moral imagination of this country.

JOHN DICKERSON: So President Obama had a version of that when he ran for the presidency and he came to Washington. And by the time he left, he basically felt- and the Republicans have their view about him, but he felt about the Republicans they were not willing partners. If he couldn't do it, things have gotten worse since, why is President Cory Booker going to be able to do it?

SEN. BOOKER: Well, two things. One is I'm glad you mentioned that he won with that message. I do think that we need the leader who can best inspire that Obama coalition. But number two is when I took over a city that was known for crime and corruption, I think most of the mayors before me were indicted and convicted. People told me all the things we could not do. And my- my frustration was hearing all these things that people said couldn't be done. It undermined. It sort of was like a surrender to cynicism that I think we have to resist. So I'm going to come to Washington and do things differently. I'm going to break norms like this president is doing to demean, degrade and divide--

JOHN DICKERSON: What norm are you going to break that's going to make this city, calcified as it is, suddenly break open and a group hug?

SEN. BOOKER: Well, first of all, that's not what I'm looking for. I think our debates and our- are important. There are going to have to be tough discussions. But this is what frustrates me. The majority of Americans agree on common sense gun safety reform. The majority of Americans agree on the need for massive infrastructure investment. The majority of Americans agree that we need to raise the minimum wage. This is the frustrating thing is that we have this wide berth on which we agree so our politics is not reflecting the people. And that's what I'm going to change as the next president of the United States.

JOHN DICKERSON: Is your campaign facing a do or die moment in terms of getting on the debate stage--

SEN. BOOKER: It- it- it is facing one of those moments where- and people have responded to this before, that if you want me in this race, if you want my voice and my message, which is resonating, then- then I need help. We need people to go to corybooker.com and contribute so that we can do what I see a lot of the billionaires in the race now doing, which is just running non-stop ads to boost their- their poll numbers. I'm not taking corporate PAC money. I'm not taking a lot of the money- I'm- I'm running on individual contributions, and that's what we're going to need to keep doing.

JOHN DICKERSON: President Obama a couple of weeks ago said the country's not really ready for revolution and that what he hears coming out of the Democratic race is maybe a little bit of too much change. Where do you come down on that? If- if a Democrat is elected, it's going to be after four years of- of President Trump, where there's been a lot of excitement. Is the country going to be ready for a lot of Democratic version of excitement?

SEN. BOOKER: Look, I- I- we need a inspiring, igniting leader next. Someone who can get folks energized because- I'm here because of revolutions. The civil rights movement was a revolution. What happened at Seneca Falls was a revolution. But these are revolutions that are consistent and resonant with our founding ideals. Look, the Declaration of Independence, they knew that this was a nation that was an experiment. If you read that document at the end, they actually have a declaration of interdependence where they say that if America's going to make it, we have to mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. That's what I think we need this next revolution to be about, is about this understanding that our enemies, they literally- I've read the intelligence reports, the Russians, the more we are divided against each- selves, they are using strategies or social media platforms more to make us hate each other more. This next revolution has to be one where we understand we have common cause. If your kids don't have a great public school to go to, my kids are lesser off. We've got to understand that we're all in this together.

JOHN DICKERSON: One last question I want to ask you--

SEN. BOOKER: Please.

JOHN DICKERSON: It's something you mentioned in the debate. You- you said this in the debate. We lost in Wisconsin because of a massive diminution in the African-American vote. We need to have someone who can inspire African-Americans to the polls in record numbers. Polls show right now that Joe Biden gets 49 percent among African-Americans. That's 34 points better than his closest rival. 

SEN. BOOKER: Yeah. 

JOHN DICKERSON: He seems to be doing exactly what you're saying. He's inspiring African-Americans, so who are you talking about?

SEN. BOOKER: Well, first of all, he's got the loyalty and voting right now because he's got 100 percent name recognition and is a former vice president, but you know this, that Barack Obama was behind Hillary Clinton amongst black voters until he won in Iowa. This race, most people have not made up their mind, and as a guy who has shown statistically in New Jersey when I'm on the ballot, surges in African-American vote, I am confident I'm the best person in this race- not to just get the percent of the African-American vote, but to increase the base, increase the turnout in a significant way. That's the kind of leader we're going to need on the ticket in the next election. 

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator Cory Booker, thanks so much for being with us. 

SEN. BOOKER: Thank you, John--

JOHN DICKERSON: Appreciate it.

SEN. BOOKER: Thank you very much.