The Last Cory Booker Event of 2020
DES MOINES, Iowa—When I arrived at what would be the last event that Senator Cory Booker held as a presidential candidate, the mood was already somber. Yet, at the time I had no idea why. The people working and volunteering at the event made eye contact with me and before they said anything, I walked over to register. After I was done typing out my information, I walked away without so much as a word from any of the volunteers. Looking back, the mood was right for what would shape up to be one of Sen. Booker’s last campaign events.
The event was held at a house that day. Maybe there was some hope of holding it inside but eventually, there were too many people to be contained in the modest house, so we relocated to the backyard. Here the cold air seemed to be sucking the energy from the space. There were a few groups in the crowd talking before the senator took their place but most people were waiting expectantly.
After a few seconds of obligatory clapping, Sen. Booker started his speech, one I had heard many times before. Always full of hope and always optimistic about everything that he had been involved with. Regardless of how much support he received, he always told some of the most interesting stories. The one he told today was about his upbringing and how his parts came into their house. Apparently, it all was thanks to a white lawyer who knew about the injustice of redlining and had just enough courage and energy to do something about it. Certainly, a fascinating story and with a few football references and the enthusiastic tone that Sen. Booker uses in all of his speeches, made for an interesting listen. However, things definitely took a turn for the worse, and certainly the more awkward, when the question section happened.
For the most part, the question portion of the event was similar to any other I had seen. However, there were some interesting points such as when someone asked about trying to convert their spouse, a Warren supporter, toward Cory Booker. When Sen. Booker answered, there seemed to be some kind of desperation and a loss for what to say. It was clear that Sen. Booker wanted to give the person a good answer more than anything but that’s not what came out. The house of cards fully collapsed when a student from California took a chance to ask a question about the senator’s reluctance to go in-depth into the policy talks. Sen. Booker fully refuted the idea that they had ever avoided policy and even went as far as saying that these critiques were ones he had never before heard. As someone who follows politics but doesn’t fully support Sen. Booker, it’s a critique I have heard many times.
After the event, people trickled out and the saddest looking selfie line slowly took form, mostly composed of local Drake students. This mellow tone of the crowd reflected how Booker had ended the question segment with his signature line, a Rise Up chant, which seemed to almost fall on deaf ears. As someone going through their first highly involved caucus I’ve heard about the classic polite Iowan who will go along with what a politician will say but has a kind of demeanor that says they don’t believe a word the guy is saying, yet I had never seen it for myself until that day. Even when walking away, the meager number of volunteers barely tried to ask the crowd to sign caucus cards making a sad exit from the presidential race for Sen. Cory Booker.