By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Bob Menendez brought the breakfast crowd to its feet when he pointed out that with him and Cory Booker, New Jersey is the only state with two U.S. senators of minority descent.
“I am so proud of my colleague in the U.S. Senate. I think that he should just skip the vice presidential gambit and run for president of the United States,” Menendez said.
He praised Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and lit into Donald Trump’s agenda.
“You can put all the borders up you want. You can put all the walls up you want. I haven’t seen a wall that somebody doesn’t fly over or dig underneath at the end of the day if they want to get there,” Menendez said.
He was especially critical of Trump’s call on Russia yesterday to hack Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.
“To me that is the very essence of espionage and it is the very essence of what I would consider a high act of treason,” he said.
Booker, who can’t enter a room without being mobbed by selfie-seekers and reporters, told the press that he felt left out until Trump attacked him in a recent tweet.
What did Trump tweet about him?
“I don’t remember the exact words, but it was sinister and dark and I just want to say to him I love you, love your family. Listen, I’m going to pray for you. I harbor no ill will for you. I just do not want you to be my president,” Booker said.
Booker spoke to the audience for half an hour and delivered a stem-winder.
First, he urged New Jersey Democrats not to grow complacent.
“We have seen how people have underestimated Donald Trump already and the consequences of that. We cannot in any way as Democrats allow ourselves to grow comfortable. We have been paying for that since 2009 because we didn’t get out the vote in a gubernatorial election,” he said.
Then he compared how Bernie Sanders treated Clinton this week with last week’s Republican convention.
“They got the number one contender against Trump, they got their person who lost in the primaries up there and he couldn’t even endorse the guy. He talked to me there. He said vote your conscience. I said that’s the first thing, Ted Cruz, that you say I’m going to do,” Booker said.
He finished with a reprise of his Monday night convention speech, and its soaring rhetoric.
“This is the time now that we’ve got to put forth our sacred effort. And if we do that and join with our fellow Americans and our fellow New Jerseyans, then we as a nation, I promise you, we will rise,” Booker said.
There seems to be genuine affection between Booker and Menendez and that has not always been the case with New Jersey U.S. senators who served before them.
“I think we all know in the past there was some friction between some of our senators. I don’t think that’s the case here. I think they try to check their egos at the door and do what’s best for New Jersey and realize how much more effective they are working as a team and we saw those results here today,” said Assemblyman Tom Giblin, former chair of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee.
Booker has given some of the best speeches to New Jersey delegates at convention breakfasts, especially in Denver in 2008. He and Menendez have become like a road show, and it played well again here this morning.