Booker joins the crowd at Iowa State Fair

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Presidential candidate and Sen. Cory Booker climbed the Des Moines Register’s soapbox at the Iowa State Fair and delivered a message like a Sunday morning preacher.

“We need each other. We have to have a revival of civic grace. I’m running for president of the United States because I believe in us. And I believe this election is not a referendum on one guy in one office, this election is a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other in the generation ahead,” Booker said.

Most of Booker’s rivals for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination will or have taken to the stage in what’s become a tradition at the Iowa State Fair. The soapbox grants candidates the opportunity to sell their vision to govern six months before the first-in-the-nation test of their campaign strengths, known as the Iowa caucuses.

“We answer dark times in our country not by showing the worst of who we are, but by elevating the best of who we are. This is the time that we need leaders, all of us, to call to the moral imagination of this country and indeed make us once again a nation with liberty and justice for all,” Booker said.

“He speaks from the heart, and when I hear him speak, I feel like he’s talking to me. I really feel that that’s connecting with a lot of people across the country. I see that he’s also grown throughout the campaign,” said Minnesota resident Adam Yust.

Native New Jerseyan Shelly Fuller now lives in Omaha and came to the fair just to hear Booker.

“He was the person today who spoke about unity, bringing the country together. He had a very positive message. He talked about values,” she said.

Attending the state fair has become a tradition for presidential candidates to come and show they can relate to Midwest folk, everyday people. But it’s also become a place where some candidates have made some major gaffs over the years — from Gucci loafers, a smoothie and one candidate saying corporations are people.

How does Booker avoid making mistakes?

“I am who I am. I’m human. Everybody has gaffes. I don’t think an American goes through a day without a gaff of some sort; it’s just part of the game,” he said.