Booker checking the water temp in NH; 2020 decision to come soon

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., posts a selfie with a Hudson fan at the Nashua home of retired State Sen. Bette and Elliot Lasky Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. Booker later spoke at a celebration of the midterm elections at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. He wraps up his two-day testing the waters visit with a Keene house party Sunday morning. 

NASHUA Strike up the band and cue the drum major, the parade of Democrats visiting New Hampshire and hungry for the opportunity to try and take out President Trump in 2020 is well underway.

On Saturday, it was U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s turn as the New Jersey senator was a guest at house parties in Nashua and Concord sandwiched around a post-midterm election celebration hosted by New Hampshire Democrats at the Institute of Art in Manchester.

The former Newark mayor’s pitch is one-part community organizer, one-part spiritual healer, one-part unapologetic liberal as he stumps for common sense gun control, getting corporate money out of politics and protecting the integrity of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the President.

But Booker never mentions Donald J. Trump by name, instead offering a litany of indictments against those who dehumanize people and can be indifferent to individual suffering.

“If America has not broken your heart, you don’t love her enough,” Booker said at the Nashua home of retired state Sen. Bette Lasky and her husband, Elliot, in south Nashua.

Booker says it will take a revival of new American founders to restore decency and respect for all points of view in the public square.

“This is a moment where we need founders again, we need framers again, we need dreamers again who refuse to grow comfortable with the way we are now,” Booker said.

Jim Demers, a longtime Democratic operative and early volunteer for Booker, told anyone who would listen that the crowd for Booker was bigger than a 2007 House party Lasky hosted for a little-known U.S. senator named Barack Obama.

“I want to thank you all for coming to our Hanukkah party,” Lasky quipped. “We truly appreciate it. We have never had so many friends here before.”

During an interview, Booker said the encouragement he receives campaigning in the state will play a role in the 2020 decision he’s expected to make early next year.

“Obviously, I am going to meet with my family over the holidays, meditate over it and pray on it, and it is intensely personal. I haven’t set for myself a specific timeline but the holidays will be a pivotal time in forming this decision.”

Most observers here see Booker as a driven man who has already made up his mind that he will run.

“I like Booker a lot. He’s smart; he’s articulate and he’s not shy about expressing his opinion about where the party should go,” said ex-state Rep. John Knowles, of Hudson, who with his late wife, Mary Ann, were key NH supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.

“There were a lot of candidates who didn’t win in places that were so tough down south, but they did much better than expected. They all were a lot like Booker, unafraid to say where they came from and what they wanted to accomplish. This is what we need.”

But Booker has company, with nine fellow senators giving a 2020 race a look: Michael Bennet of Colorado; Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania: Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Kamala Harris of California; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Chris Murphy of Connecticut; Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

There are also five members of the U.S. House who are already in or likely to be: John Delaney of Maryland; Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Tim Ryan of Ohio and Eric Swalwell of California.

Don’t forget former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire businessmen Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, all of whom are expected to run.

Ex-state Rep. Peggy Gilmour of Hollis thinks, for now, the more the merrier.

“We’re going to get the chance to see a lot of new faces, all of them people who feel they have something to bring to the table,” Gilmour said.

“I believe this will feed the momentum we have coming out of the midterm to keep that drive going.”

This period is also meant to allow some to end what had been a whimsical dalliance with a White House run. Former Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick and Los Angeles lawyer and Trump nemesis Michael Avenatti headed for the exit door last week.

klandrigan@unionleader.com