Sen. Cory Booker discusses 2020 election issues in conference call with student journalists

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Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker walks on to the stage to speak at the Campus Corner community block party Aug. 29.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign hosted a conference call for student journalists across the country addressing issues of concern on their campuses.

Booker spoke with The Daily and other campus news outlets across the country Sept. 19 for a student press call following his visit to Norman last month. Among the many issues discussed were the student debt crisis, racial justice and climate change, but before answering students’ questions, Booker spoke during the call about his campaign’s purpose, and its connection to the sense of moral duty in Americans.

Booker said if elected, he would use the powers of the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education to provide an inclusive environment and education throughout K-12 schooling, helping to reduce racist attitudes like those seen across the country, and specifically, seen at OU in the spring.

“But I want to go further than that. I think we all have a moral obligation to deal with issues of bias and racism in our society,” Booker said. “Nothing is going to change in this country unless we all do.”

Booker was asked about the student debt crisis, and he said his campaign can get their policies to address the crisis “passed in Congress.” Booker said he believes in “forgiving debts of people that are going into public interest careers like teaching or public defenders.”

“We believe in forgiving the debt of low-income Americans (who are) struggling to make it or people that have been built by the education scheme,” Booker said. “People are struggling right now.”

Booker said a change in the nation’s leadership is also necessary to work toward fixing issues with racism across the country.

“We have to have a leader that does not demean, degrade and divide Americans like (President Trump) is,” Booker said. “(One) that doesn’t make overtly misogynistic and racist and bigoted remarks on a regular basis ... We have a president shooting language that right wing, white supremacist terrorists are including in their manifesto.”

If Booker is chosen to be that leader, he said one of the first issues he will address is climate change — an issue that millions of young people across the country protested during a global climate strike day on Sept. 20.

“If I’m the nominee, this is going to be a technical issue,” Booker said. “We have to start right away — all of us. There are not enough Americans engaged with a sense of urgency on this issue.”

Booker said the 2020 election is not just about picking a candidate you align with but about “our virtues, our hearts, our spirit.” 

“This is a time where I think this election is not a referendum of one guy in one office,” Booker said. “I think it’s a referendum on who we are and who we are to each other.”

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