Exclusive - Cory Booker Extended Interview

July 29, 2016 - Cory Booker 07/29/2016 Views: 8,328

Senator Cory Booker talks about being upstaged at the DNC by Michelle Obama and explains the impact that Bernie Sanders has had on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. (11:11)

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Please welcomeSenator Cory Booker.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

-Welcome, sir.-Thank you very much.

-Good to have you here.-Good to be here.

Good to have youon the show again.

Thank you for being here.

What an exciting weekthis has been.

It was really, really exciting.

I mean, for a lot of reasons.

But if-if you wantto get out of the partisanship,

we, America, have doneanother major breakthrough

with putting a womanas the head of a major party.

-It's incredible.-(cheering, applause)

You often hear people talkingabout, uh, ladies night,

but this wasladies week, really.

I mean, women were coming outand crushing it.

-Can I be honest? I felt badfor you, because... -Yeah.

No, no, I'll tell you why.

You had a phenomenal speech.

-But... but...-(cheering, applause)

Yes.

On the same night,Michelle Obama had her speech.

Yes. You know it's bad whenyou meet up with your mother

afterwards and they run up toyou and I think she's gonna say

"great speech" and she goes,"Did you hear Michelle Obama?"

It... What does it feel liketo be a part of that?

You know, you're experiencingthe evening, you're experiencing

this positive message.What is it like when you're

actually in the eye of-ofeverything that's happening?

Well, I was one of those kidsthat watched the conventions

growing up, and I rememberthese epic, iconic speeches,

like Mario Cuomo and others.

And when you're standing there,backstage, and you know

you're about to go up,it's... a really powerful,

very humbling, uh, experience.And then, you know,

you're not just speakingto Democrats in that arena,

you're really speaking to thecountry. And that's why I-I was

really disappointed to heara lot of Republicans I know, um,

which doesn't always happen--sometimes there's

really great speeches coming outof the Republican convention

as well-- but this onewas a l... very dark.

They weren't speaking to thehigher angels of our-our nature,

and I was happythat the Clinton campaign

gave me complete latitude.Uh, Secretary Clinton,

who I talked to while I waswriting the speech,

she just said, "I want you togive 'em the full Cory Booker."

-And so I felt... I felt, uh...-(cheering, applause)

-very... free.-You felt-you felt really...

-Yeah.-Very free, yeah.

It's-it's interesting...

it's interesting you say that--"the full Cory Booker,"

because during your speech,Donald Trump tweeted

"Oh, here comesSenator Cory Booker.

I know more about this manthan he knows about himself."

Yes.

Is Donald Trump your therapist?

Um...(chuckles)

he-he, uh...he can't help himself.

-I don't know what it is.-He really can't.

-He really can't. -Well, whatwas more impressive to me though

was how you responded.You-you tweeted out something

along the lines--I'll paraphrase--

but you were basically like,"I'm not gonna respond

"to Donald Trumpwith, uh, darkness.

I'm gonna respond to himwith light."

-And you were like,"I love you, Donald." -Yeah.

-No, a-absolutely. Um...-(cheering and applause)

My... I do.And I... and I, uh...

You know, my father told methere's two ways

to go through life, asa thermometer or a thermostat.

A thermometer just, like...You... Whatever somebody says

-about you, you go up and down.A thermostat, -Yeah.

you set the temperature. AndI'm not gonna let Donald Trump

-turn me into something that I'mnot. -It really is admirable.

It really is admirable. Now,

it-it really is interesting thatyou... that you take that tone,

because you are oneof the people who has

really, uh, lived that message,you know?

You are one of the few peopleI know who says a nice thing

about Ted Cruz. Um...

With this race goingthe way it is,

if Hillary were to win-- andlet's say the Republicans were

to keep control of the House--

how do you beginthose discussions?

How do you stop Republicans fromjust blocking every measure?

How do... how do we stop beingin a place where,

for four years,nothing is being done?

Well, I mean, there-there's thebig things that we have to do

for the... for the sakeof this country

and staying true to ourself,

from immigration reformto the truth of tax reform.

And we really have a system,uh, that provides advantages

for wealth and privilege

in a way that it doesn't provide

for the averageworking American,

and we have to changethose things.

And those are gonna be hardto do,

but even in the midstof all of that,

um, there's still partnershipsgoing on all the time

that doesn't make headlines,where we're getting things done.

You know, we just passed a majorbill about chemical testing.

-We have a country...Unlike many nations, -Yeah.

we haven't even banned a...um, uh, asbestos yet.

We have a nation that had lawsthat were so weak

that they could put chemicalsinto the markets

with them being in... guilty...innoc... presumed innocent

until proven guilty that werec... be potentially causing

lots of problems. So we hada bipartisan coalition,

got that done. I was ableto work to get into that bill

a ban on unnecessaryanimal testing, and...

-Something I'm very proud of.-(cheering and applause)

And so...

no matter what, nothing is easy.

And I remind peopleall the time,

if you take the civil rights,uh, legislation,

this didn't happen becauseone day a bunch of senators

got together,Strom Thurmond and others,

"Hey, let's pass equal justicefor black people in America."

And it just didn't happenthat way, you know?

Change doesn't really comefrom Washington--

it comes to Washington.And that's why people who...

-That's powerful. -Yeah.-(cheering and applause)

But that's why peoplewho just get angry and upset,

I call it a stateof sedentary agitation,

when they're complainingabout what's going on

but not realizing they havea responsibility to do something

-about it.-Okay, now, now,

two... so, two things,two things.

You say peoplewho are complaining and...

but they don't realizethey can do something about it,

let's talk about the Bernie fansfor a second,

because a lot of people noticedthe-the rhetoric

at the DNC this week was onewhere, strangely enough,

the theme seemed to be whatthe Republicans use to run on,

in a certain way, like USAchants, flags, claiming America.

-Yes. -And now this wasthe Democrats saying,

"No, no, no,America is for all of us."

Now, for Bernie fans whosee that leaning to the right,

what is your message to them?

Because they go,"Hey, Hillary's not my person.

"Is she going to follow these...

"Is she gonna follow the money

or is she gonna bewith the money?"

How do you addresstheir concerns?

Well, first of all, I wantto celebrate the Bernie fans.

People... I had some peoplecomplaining to me

-about them, but...-(cheering)

...the Bernie fans are-arenot what worries me.

The-the people who worry meare the people

that are on the sideline.

King said,y-you know, to paraphrase,

you know, the problem today,what we'll have to repent for,

is not the vitriolic wordsand violent actions

of the bad people,but the appalling silence

and inaction of the good people.

So, one, the Bernie fans,

as much as they might have beenannoying, frustrating,

the truth is,they were honoring...

I love how you said that.

"As much as they mayhave been annoying or..."

-Yeah, no, but-but peoplewere... -(Noah laughs)

People were... I heardthat complaint a lot.

-Yeah.-But-but two things

to really say, one isthey're honoring the oldest

of American traditions,which is creative protest,

-uh, by being out thereand challenging. -Right.

-(applause) -And-and then,and then number two,

they actually cameand were under the big tent

of the Democratic Party.

Remember, 22 of my Republicancolleagues refused to even--

Senate colleagues-- refusedto even go to the convention.

-Yes.-It was boycotted by presence.

Their tent was not the big tent.

It was just...it was a party of Trump.

Other folks in theRepublican Party did not come.

-Yeah, they refused to attend.-So, we had a big tent.

When you... sometimes when youcram a lot of folks in there,

it's a lot of friction,and-and what I love is that

unequivocally, unequivocally,

they changed the-the-theDemocratic Party.

Let me tell youspecifically what I mean.

-Uh-huh.-When...

When... one of my-myfavorite moments...

So, I get off the...from giving my speech,

I-I-I get one of the dumbestquestions in all of politics,

which is somebody comes up to meand says,

"Would you like to go toPresident Bill Clinton's box?"

And I'm like, "Uh, yes."

(laughing):Um... um...

but can I bring my mom?

And, um, and so my mom and I

were in-inPresident Clinton's box,

and when Berniecame on to speak,

nobody would let this man start

because the cheeringwas so loud.

-Yeah, the-the people...-And it wasn't just

Bernie people cheering.

I'm looking around and I'mseeing Hillary folks cheering,

and then I'm... realize I'msitting next to Bill Clinton,

and I'm gonna steal a glanceat him and I look over at him,

and he is whooping and holleringand cheering as well,

and it just goes to show you,this movement that-that-that

Bernie Sanders started,

it changedthe national conversation;

it changed the Democratic Partyplatform,

and I'm telling you right now,it made Hillary Clinton

a better candidate,ready to go in and take on

in the general election.

(audience cheers)

One...

So, one final questionbefore you go.

You are...

you are one of the mainproponents of, uh,

criminal justice reform.

-Thank you for bringing it up.-Right.

You...

(audience cheers)

You are supporting, uh,you know, the release

of low level drug offenders,people who are nonviolent,

but it was interesting becausenow you have come up against

"the anecdotal,"which-which is still

an emotional connectionthat people have.

I think it was, uh, Tom Cottonwho came out and said,

look at this low level drugoffender who was released

from prison and then wentand killed, uh, you know,

his ex-girlfriendand-and-and children.

How do you work with that?

How do you, how do you engagewith someone in a conversation

where you go, I don't dismisswhat you are saying,

but this cannot be the onlymessage that we use

when trying to move forward.

How-how do you think you willmove that conversation forward?

So two things, first, you don'tfall in the Donald Trump trap.

Um, to be strong,you don't have to be mean.

To be tough,you don't have to be cruel.

You look at your opponent onthe other side of the aisle...

(applause, cheering)

...and you-you work.

Look, I'm either going to workwith you,

or I'm going to builda coalition so strong

that we're going to getthis done.

And what's going on in Americaright now,

is so contrary to who we saywe are, the land of the free.

We are a nation with 5%of the globe's population,

but one in every fourincarcerated people,

person's on the planet Earth,are in our nation.

And disproportionatelyfor drug crimes.

Remember, we have more peopleincarcerated for drugs

in America now than just about

all the people incarceratedin 1975.

This drug war has been a brutal,uh, explosion of our...

of our... 500% increase

-Yeah.-in our prison population.

And the peoplewe're incarcerating...

Uh, at college, at Stanford,

people were breaking drug lawsall the time.

Whites and blacks break druglaws equally,

but blacks are about 3.7 timesmore likely

-to be arrested for it.-(applause)

The people in our jailfor these crimes,

are-are poor folks,mentally ill folks,

drug addicted folks, anddisproportionately brown folks.

And so, when you have peoplebeing arrested today,

for doing things thatthe last two presidents

-admitted to doing...-Wow.

And very serious.

-Eh, read President Obama'sbooks. -Yeah.

-It wasn't just marijuana.-Yeah.

These were felony crimeshe admitted to.

Uh, George Bush,a whole lot of felony crimes,

-(laughing)-uh, going on there.

And, and, and yet,when-when I was gr...

You know, my parents hadto fight a court case

to be the first black familyintegrated town.

I watched my peersbreak drug laws,

but nobody was stoppingand frisking folks coming home.

Nobody was raiding their homes.

It's a very different justicesystem that you experience

in America if you're poor,

and-and often casesif you're a minority.

And that belies the truthof what,

when I walk down the stepsof the Capitol,

and I look at the Supreme Courtbuilding,

written on the side of the wallis one thing

staring at all Americanspassing by:

"Equal Justice Under Law."

-(applause)-And until we reach that,

(clears throat)that ideal, we must fight.

And what scares meabout this is,

the most pervertedtype of privilege,

is that when there'sa serious problem,

but it doesn'teffect you personally,

-then to you, it's not reallya serious problem. -Yeah.

This is a serious problem.

It should motivate all Americansto want to change it.

(cheers, applause)

Always good to have you.

Always wonderful.

Thank you so muchfor being here.

Senator Cory Booker.

We'll be right back.