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Even though, as of today, we are another month closer to the 2016 presidential election; there is still a whole lot of time to go before we get any idea of what the field will look like. There are still exploratory committees to be formed, straw polls to be blown out of proportion, staffers to be fired and debates to be had after all.
But presidential politics sell well. Heck, Pollitics Today essentially began as a site that exclusively covered it. However, we need to sometimes pump filler articles to bide our time before the real news occurs; that’s why you see plenty of articles already talking about candidates visiting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The Republican field has plenty of prospects that get bandied about. There are first-term Senators (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio), current Governors (Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal), members of Congress (Paul Ryan), former politicians (Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum) and even jokes (Ted Nugent, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin) that get tossed around in early prediction polls.
But the Democratic field is much more thin as its widely assumed that whatever Hillary Clinton decides, will shape the field. If she decides to give the one last shot to be President of the United States, she’ll likely have a clear field with some token opposition. If she doesn’t run? Then the perceived frontrunner is VP Joe Biden (who may not run either) and if he doesn’t? You’ll see names such as Governor Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley and some Senators including Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner and maybe Elizabeth Warren being frequently mentioned.
But after Clinton and Biden, the Democratic field leaves a lot to be desired. Cuomo has plenty of cash on his side but is awfully close to Wall Street and seems to lack the charisma of a star candidate. O’Malley has progressive credentials but he hasn’t really sparked much excitement. Klobuchar and Warner are fairly unknown and while Warren has rockstar potential, it’ll be hard to imagine her making a run when she appears at home in the Senate.
So naturally, there has been some speculation regarding Newark Mayor Cory Booker and a national bid for President or as a top prospect to be a Vice Presidential nominee. Booker is very tight with Wall Street, so fundraising wouldn’t be an issue, he is a very eloquent and charismatic speaker, has an active following on Twitter and is young. He has the profile to be someone who is ready to take the next step in politics.
He has appeared on Meet the Press numerous times, spoke at the Democratic National Convention and is running for the Senate seat in New Jersey in the special election in which he is favored to win the Democratic nomination and the subsequent general election.
If Booker is indeed the next Senator from New Jersey, he’ll be a step closer to the Presidency and he has already been tested in hypothetical primaries by Public Policy Polling.
So naturally today in a piece by POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman, Booker was asked if he had intentions of running for President in 2016 or perhaps in being Vice President to which Booker denied. Now, that should not be taken as gospel especially considering Barack Obama’s famous denial of interest (apologies for linking to NewsBusters) in running in 2008 (spoiler alert: he ran).
But it naturally makes you wonder why this is news when Booker is in the midst of a Senate campaign. It makes sense though as there have been questions about if Booker is using the Senate seat as a stepping stone to more ambitious offices. So Booker might’ve used the interview to try and quell those whispers and to show New Jersey residents that he has his full focus on serving them.
Then again, this news so happens to come out on the same day that a Salon piece by Alex Pareene came out that dinged Booker for his potential views on raising the retirement age for Social Security. If Booker has any ambition towards running for higher office, he is going to have to address plenty of Democratic issues and no matter how many tweets he has; he’s going to have to get into specifics.
I have made it no secret that I am not supporting Cory Booker in a primary. I can’t do it. However, I would vote for him in a general if he was the Democratic nominee. I also can’t help but wonder if Booker talking about 2016 was an effort to deflect criticism from the Salon piece and refocus the attention on presidential politics which always gets higher notice.
It’s going to be mighty interesting what happens over these next two years but do expect to hear the name Cory Booker a lot.