Chicago Tribune, “In Chicago, Democratic presidential contender Cory Booker, lagging in polls, preaches unity”

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By RICK PEARSON | OCT 18, 2019

Marie Newman, who's challenging incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, introduces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker at Cocula restaurant on the Southwest Side on Oct. 18, 2019.
Marie Newman, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, introduces Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker at Cocula restaurant on the Southwest Side on Oct. 18, 2019. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, who has used the debate stage to criticize rivals for attacking one another, said Friday he views his efforts as going beyond partisan politics in an attempt to unite Americans

“I caution Democrats, we cannot define ourselves by what we’re against. We need to start talking about what we’re for. We can’t even just define ourselves in the partisan terms that we’re to beat republicans. No,” Booker said after a meet-and-greet with supporters of Democratic congressional candidate Marie Newman at a Southwest Side restaurant.

“This is a moral moment that requires us to unite Americans in common cause and common purpose so that we can deal with the big justice issues that we’re facing and seize the opportunity in the 21st century,” the first-term New Jersey senator said.

Whether that style will be appealing to voters remains an unanswered question. Booker has been averaging 1.6 percent in the RealClearPolitics compilation of polls. His campaign had threatened to shut down at the end of last month without an influx of donations, ultimately getting $2.1 million in the last 10 days of September.

“I always tell people whether it’s in Washington or Newark that we need to create uncommon coalitions to create uncommon results. We can’t rip ourselves apart as a country,” the former Newark, New Jersey, mayor said.

“We have a global competition going on (for the Democratic presidential nomination) and our team can’t be ripping itself and tearing itself down. We did big things in this country, from going to the moon to beating the Nazis when we pulled together, created new American coalitions,” he said. “If we’re going to beat climate change, if we’re going to transform our country into being a nation where health care is a right for all, these take bigger mobilizations than partisan mobilizations.”

Booker said his decision to back Newman, a challenger to seven-term Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Southwest Side and suburban 3rd Congressional District, was not intended as a statement about the future of the Democratic Party — which finds itself torn over progressive challengers and House incumbents. Lipinski, a social conservative, opposes abortion while Newman supports abortion rights.

“I’m saying that we have to protect people’s health care, we have to protect dreamers, we have to protect a woman’s right to control her own body — especially with the assaults (on abortion rights) getting bigger,” he said.

Newman, who lost her primary bid to upset Lipinski last year by 2.2 percentage points, has previously earned the endorsements of presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Newman said she has endorsed the policies of the presidential candidates who are backing her, but not a specific contender.

A spokesperson for Lipinski’s campaign, Zac Plantz, issued a statement saying Booker’s rationale for supporting Newman “once again confirms that her campaign is not about helping working families in the 3rd District, but only about abortion — at any time and paid for by taxpayers.”

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