Cory Booker banking on Iowans getting to know his heart as well as his ideas

Presidential hopeful: 'We are actually running the kind of campaign that wins in Iowa'

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., shakes hands with farm manager Zach D'Amico on Monday during a tour of Cultivate Hope Urb
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., shakes hands with farm manager Zach D’Amico on Monday during a tour of Cultivate Hope Urban Farm in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s not leading in the polls and he’s had money issues, but Cory Booker believes he’s running the right kind of campaign to win the Iowa caucuses.

“Judging on the indices of the past in this state about what wins elections, I would say that not only is our campaign working, but it’s winning,” the New Jersey senator said Monday afternoon after touring Matthew 25’s Cultivate Hope Urban Farm in southwest Cedar Rapids.

John Kerry was polling at 4 percent at this point in the 2004 caucus campaign, Booker said, and Barack Obama was about 20 points behind Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Booker is at 2.3 percent in the polling average. However, he’s met the Democratic National Committee’s polling and fundraising eligibility requirements for the November round of candidate debates.

Booker called his campaign’s ground game “inarguably one of the best” in Iowa and pointed to the more than 50 endorsements he has received from Iowa lawmakers, local elected officials and Democratic Party activists.

However, when other campaigns invested more money and staff in Iowa, Booker saw no pathway to win unless he could up his game. He issued an ultimatum at the end of September, saying he needed to raise $1.7 million or he would be forced to drop out of the race.

“We blew by that by almost a half-million dollars,” Booker said as his campaign RV went from the urban farm education center to Groundswell Café to talk about climate change, and that’s left the campaign “in a good position now.”


That’s because unlike states where campaigns have to rely on money and television ads, the Iowa caucus campaign is about direct contact with voters, Booker said.

“People in Iowa want to meet you. They want to shake your hand. They want to feel your heart and your spirit as well as know your ideas,” Booker said.

“So I think we are actually running the kind of campaign that wins in Iowa, that isn’t all about money.”

That means “a lesser- fund candidate with the right heart, the right spirit and the right ideas can actually win here,” Booker said. “That’s what we’re banking on.”

Booker, who is midway through a four-day Iowa campaign swing, also spoke Monday evening at the University of Iowa.

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