By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s first stop in New Jersey was a senior citizen center in Willingboro. Then he addressed a room full of politically-minded students at Princeton University. Then traveled up to New Brunswick for another student rally. At each stop, talking up the candidacy of a man he called his friend — Cory Booker.
“We need leaders, it seems to me, who are not just thinking about the next election or the next news cycle, but instead the next generation. And I think Cory Booker has shown that in his work in Newark, he’s shown it in the quality and integrity of this campaign,” Patrick said.
Booker got in this morning from one week out of state. He was in private meetings today, according to his campaign.
In New Jersey, it’s unusual for a dignitary like the Massachusetts governor to come in and not have the candidate at his side. The Booker camp says it’s better if the two men spread the message in two different places, and Patrick seemed to agree.
“It would be in my experience, which admittedly is limited, unusual if he were here today. The way we’ve used surrogates at home is to leverage the campaign, not to duplicate what the candidate is doing. And that’s what I’ve done when I’ve done stumping in other states for other candidates,” Patrick said.
The Princeton students who turned out to hear Patrick knew they wouldn’t be hearing from Booker.
“It was never publicized that he’d be here, no,” said one student.
Still, most called themselves Booker supporters.
“I support Cory Booker and I hope he continues in his path toward the presidency,” said Princeton University student Marcus Spiegel.
At his Rutgers stop, Patrick was joined by gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono.
“If I can help by being with her I’m proud to do so. I think she’s got just a marvelous record. Like an awful lot of folks from New Jersey and around the country, I really like Chris Christie but I’ve also seen the record, and I think that New Jersey could use a doer in that office,” Patrick said.
“When he ran for governor in 2006, the pundits didn’t support him either but you know what? Deval believed in the people. He believed that the people are more important than the pundits,” said Buono.
“To the point about trusting the people, the people understand something in Massachusetts just as they do here in New Jersey. And that is there are a lot of talkers in this line of work. What we need are doers and that’s the reason why we need Barbara Buono as governor of New Jersey and Cory Booker as your next United States senator,” Patrick said.
Today’s Quinnipiac poll that has Booker up by just 12 points over Steve Lonegan went unmentioned. The Booker forces say the silver lining in that poll is that it’s a wake-up call for Booker donors and Booker voters.