Election 2020

Cory Booker on GOP Diversity: I Look at ‘People Who Fill Convention Halls’

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) speaks during a news conference at the Drug Policy Alliance on March 15, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Despite the ethnic diversity in the Republican presidential field, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he judges diversity by the crowds at the conventions, adding that the U.S. Senate is a place that’s lacking in that area.

Booker was asked why there is more diversity among the presidential candidates in the Republican presidential primary compared to the Democratic candidates.

“If you looked at the two parties’ candidates you would think that the party that’s representing values of diversity might be the Republicans based on the candidates who are running and their backgrounds,” a member of the audience said during an event dedicated to his new book. “How have we come to that point?”

“I look at conventions and people who fill convention halls and when I look at the Republican convention it’s just not nearly as diverse as I look at the Democratic Party. And that’s not, by the way — I’m not saying that one party is — I don’t want to cast dispersions on the Republican Party, that’s not why I am here tonight. I just simply want to say that we as a country have a rich, deep diversity that’s not represented in our politics and we have a rich, deep gender diversity, clearly that’s not represented in our politics,” Booker responded.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), both of Cuban descent as well as Dr. Ben Carson, an African-American, remain in the race for the GOP nomination while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American, has dropped out.

Booker lamented the federal government for not having a diverse pension program similar to Texas and New Jersey. Calling Texas a “future blue state,” Booker said both states invest money in diverse “emerging managers” such as women and minorities.

Booker, a possible vice presidential candidate, mentioned a Barclays bank study that showed that those managers typically perform better in their jobs.

Booker said he asked how much funding is being invested in emerging managers when he came to Washington.

“Zero, not one dollar, and so I know when it comes to wealth creation and opportunity that you have to be a hawk on it everywhere. The Senate itself, staffers in the Senate, it’s not a diverse place,” he said. “Senate page program — not nearly representative in its diversity. And so I see that just in my world because I look for it all the time — but what about you, where you live and where you work? Are you calling the question?”

HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who moderated the book discussion, has also been floated as a potential vice presidential candidate. Both Booker and Castro laughed when an audience member mentioned the future VP slot.

Booker’s new book, United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good, was released on Feb. 16.