- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sen. Cory A. Booker kicked off his run for the White House this weekend by saying that efforts to reunite a broken America must first overcome a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia.

“From 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to the Kremlin, we know what their strategy is. It is to pit us against each other for their own gain, to make us suspicious of one another, to make us fear each other, dislike each other, to make us hate each other. That is how they win,” Mr. Booker told a crowd of thousands Saturday in Newark, New Jersey.

Mr. Booker, who is running on a platform of social, economic and racial justice, described his presidential campaign as being built on love and moral justice.

“Critics are going to tell you, tell all of us, that a campaign powered by grace and love and a deep faith in each other can’t beat that. But I say it is the only way we win,” he said.

Mr. Booker served two terms a mayor of Newark before being elected to the Senate in 2013. He still lives in the city and frequently uses it as a political backdrop.

Languishing in the low single digits in the polls, he is looking to distinguish himself and break out of the pack of 19 Democratic candidates.

Most of his rivals have avoided making Trump-Russia collusion a campaign issue, as political strategists warn that voters have tired of the narrative.

But a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that nearly half of all Americans believe there was some sort of coordination between the Trump campaign Russia, despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of no evidence of collusion.

Mr. Booker, who is black, has made racial justice a cornerstone of his run. In Saturday’s speech, he vowed to oppose and overturn the racism and white supremacy that were built into U.S. laws and culture.

“Unlike this president, I will not ignore or give license to white supremacy,” he said.

Though the Democratic race for many has become a contest of who can move further left or claim the progressive mantle, Mr. Booker said he would remain focused on serving the American people.

“Our first priority must be to make people’s lives better,” he said.

He outlined an ambitious agenda that includes legalizing marijuana at the federal level, combatting climate change, creating a “Medicare for All” program for government-run health care and strengthening gun control laws.

He vowed to champion women’s rights and LBGTQ rights, including reversing Mr. Trump’s ban on transgender personnel serving in the military.

He said America “can’t wait” for the justice he envisions — a refrain in his speech and a theme for the campaign.

“We can’t wait when this administration is throwing children fleeing violence into cages,” Mr. Booker said.

On immigration, he promised comprehensive reform that would open a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally as well as for “Dreamers,” immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

Delivering a line in Spanish, he said, “I will be a president for all people in America.”

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