No love lost
Cory Booker ‘unequivocally rejects and condemns Farrakhan’s hateful views’
An aide to Booker says the 'Trump campaign has been pushing around a disingenuous attack'
Mark C. Olsen
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is battling criticism for an exchange on the campaign trail surrounding his willingness to meet with Louis Farrakhan, the notorious leader of Nation of Islam who’s been widely panned by groups such as the SPLC and the ADL for his “antisemitic commentary.”
“Are you familiar with Minister Farrakhan?” Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked during a town hall meeting in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday. “I am,” Booker responded. The audience member asked also whether Booker would “be willing” to meet with Farrakhan.
“I don’t feel like I need to do that,” Booker responded, explaining that he had heard plenty of Farrakhan’s speeches in the past. “But I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say.”
An aide to Booker tells JI, “Cory unequivocally rejects and condemns Farrakhan’s hateful views.” The aide countered that “the Trump campaign has been pushing around a disingenuous attack on Cory and I’d encourage anyone to watch the full video. Cory was asked a question in a forum about whether he’d meet with Farrakhan — not about his hateful views — and answered the question directly, literally saying ‘I don’t feel the need’ to meet with him.”
A video of Booker’s exchange was distributed by the Republican National Committee (RNC) “GOP war room.”
Despite headlines like “Booker says won’t stop meeting with Louis Farrakhan,” the New Jersey senator has never met with Farrakhan, and “has no plans to,” a Booker aide informs JI.
Read a transcript of the full exchange below:
Q: Are you familiar with minister Farrakhan?
Cory Booker: “I am.”
Q: My question was, would you be willing to get appointments with him [inaudible]?
Booker: “You know, I have met — I live in Newark, so we have famous Mosque 25, we have Nation of Islam there. As mayor, I met with lots of folks. I’ve heard Minister Farrakhan’s speeches for a lot of my life. So I don’t feel like I need to do that. But I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say. But I live on a neighborhood where I’m getting guys on the streets, offering and selling his works. I’m very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs in his opinions.”