New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is hoping to become the next president of the United States. But like the rest of the candidates vying for their chance at adding Commander-in-Chief to their extensive resume, he knows that if he wants to increase his chances of winning the Democratic nomination, he has to get out and connect with the people.
We caught up with the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey as he went county to county in South Carolina meeting the men and women who he hopes will one day call him President. ESSENCE joined him on day two of a three-day tour that started off in Spartanburg and ended in North Charleston. For the launch of ESSENCE’s new series, 24 Hours With:_____, we spent a day with the 2020 hopeful, zigzagging the earliest southern primary state with a large number of Black voters.
9:30 AM, Friday: The first stop on ESSENCE’s abbreviated trail was Allen University, an HBCU in Columbia, South Carolina where the Yale Law School grad discussed climate issues with a lecture-style classroom full of students. While one student brought up led-infested water, another was interested in learning more about what Booker plans to do about the fight over indigenous lands. Both believed that Booker showed a sincere interest in helping and was committed to listening.
2:00 PM, Friday: After lunch, it was time to take an hour and a half drive to Manning, South Carolina where Booker met with voters and took photos on the steps of the Clarendon County Courthouse. “He believes in fighting for wealth equality,” said the local leader who introduced him. “He believes in equality throughout our judicial system. He also rebukes some of the federal laws that are bias when creating opportunities for wealth in some communities No one is invisible to him. He sees everyone.
There, the senator was also surprised with a saxophone serenade to celebrate his 50th birthday. Afterward, he took questions from the audience and we jumped in on the press gaggle where he fielded questions from reporters about everything from turning 50 and his plans for job creation, to his now-public romance with girlfriend Rosario Dawson.
5:00 PM, Friday: A nearly two-hour drive landed us in Hampton County, South Carolina where the local Democratic Party hosted a fish fry. It felt like a homecoming of sorts. Fish and shrimp were being fried outside while inside a robust number of attendees took photos and shook hands with a man whom most hope will occupy the White House in 2021. Among those gathered was a young man concerned about education and the growing cost of college.
7:30 PM, Friday: An hour-drive north we were finally at our last stop for the day. In the auditorium of Whale Branch Middle School, residents of Beaufort, South Carolina packed into the risers to hear from the man they believe can beat out Trump. After giving his stump speech (I pretty much had it down by this point), Booker took a number of questions and addressed concerns from attendees.
11:00 PM, Friday: Checked in at my hotel in Charleston. It was time for bed.
7:00 AM, Saturday: We meet Booker at his hotel in Charleston for one-on-one time with the candidate. And on the way to our next stop, we had an opportunity to ask him some questions. Most pressing was how he expects to serve Black women voters as president and how he plans to address some of the racial wealth and education gaps that persist in our country. Once the policy questions were answered it was time to dive into a little New Jersey trivia. New Jerseyans should rest comfortably knowing that their junior senator knows his stuff.
8:30 AM, Saturday: Booker showed off his farming skills at Future Fresh Farm in North Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a nonprofit urban farm and grocery store that services the local community. The founder, Germaine Jenkins, gave the senator a few tips on tending to the land, and upon conclusion of the lesson, Booker was presented with a birthday cake — vegan, of course — before he rushed to the airport for a flight to Florida.
In the 24 hours ESSENCE spent with Senator Booker, we made it to five campaign stops, spoke with more than two dozen voters and celebrated one very special birthday. Needless to say, the presidential trail is not for the faint of heart.Share :