Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey says he is willing to sit down with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has long been accused of anti-Semitism.
At a campaign event Saturday, Booker was asked by a member of the audience whether Booker would refuse to meet with Farrakhan, citing Farrakhan’s years-long attacks on Judaism.
“I live in Newark, so we have famous Mosque 25, we have Nation of Islam there,” Booker said. “As mayor I met with lots of folks talking to him. I have heard Minister Farrakhan’s speeches for a lot of my life, so I don’t feel like I need to do that, but I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say.”
“But, I live in a neighborhood where I’m getting guys on the streets offering and selling his works. I am very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and his values,” Booker said, according to a video of the event.
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign responded with a statement.
“President Trump has repeatedly condemned racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism,” the campaign said. “Why can’t Democrats do the same?”
Others, including prominent conservative voices, condemned Booker on Twitter.
Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. https://t.co/ueqhN7e78V
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) June 23, 2019
Hang on. How can @CoryBooker say he’s willing to sit down with ravenous antisemite Louis Farrakhan & simultaneously demand @JoeBiden apologize for once working with segregationists? Oh yeah. Because intersectionality ranks antisemitism below other racism. https://t.co/65fcFwhPD6
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) June 23, 2019
Cory Booker, you should condemn the hate of Louis Farrakhan. as you know, Farrakhan has made numerous antisemitic comments, including: “Hitler was a very great man,” and referred to Jews as termites. So why not be clear about a man who promotes dangerous hate? @CoryBooker
— Roz Rothstein (@RozRothstein) June 25, 2019
Booker’s willingness to meet with Farrakhan came after he lashed out at Democratic presidential front runner Joe Biden for comments in which the former vice president said that during his time in the Senate, “civility” allowed him to work with segregationist senators such James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.
“At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done,” Biden said, noting Eastland called him “son,” but not “boy.”
Booker expressed outrage at the comment.
“He is a presidential nominee, and to say something — and again, it’s not about working across the aisle, if anything I’ve made that a hallmark of my time in the Senate, to get big things done and legislation passed — this is about him invoking a terrible power dynamic that he showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity to by invoking this idea that he was called ‘son’ by white segregationists who, yeah, they see in him their son,” Booker said, on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I heard from many, many African-Americans who found the comments hurtful,” he said.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys,'” Booker had said earlier in a statement. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”
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