New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker exits the stage after speaking at a get out the vote event hosted by the NH Young Democrats at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

Booker tells activists "We are in a moral moment in America"

October 28, 2018 - 6:06 pm

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — A day after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey declared Sunday during a visit with New Hampshire Democrats that "we are in a moral moment in America."

Booker told a crowd of young Democratic activists at the University of New Hampshire that what worries him in moments like these is that "we pause and express grief and then we move on as if this is normal." But he emphasized: "This is not normal. This is not who we are."

Eleven congregants were killed in the Pittsburgh shooting, called one of the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community in this country.

The high-profile senator from New Jersey was one of several prominent Democratic leaders, including former President Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with broadcaster CNN, sent pipe bombs this past week through the mail, authorities said. All of the explosive devices were intercepted and no one was injured.

"I was protected by vigilant first responders that stopped the package before it even came to New Jersey," Booker said at the get-out-the-vote event. He was joined in Durham by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly, First Congressional District nominee Chris Pappas, as well as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

While he refrained from directly criticizing President Donald Trump, Booker appeared to indirectly target the president for his divisive rhetoric on Twitter and at his political rallies.

"In general we have to understand that words matter and that we all need to be mindful of what we're saying," Booker told reporters.

"Since 9/11 the majority of our terrorist attacks have been rightwing groups and the majority of those have been white supremacist groups, people that are peddling hate against blacks or Jews or other minorities. It's so antithetical to who we are," Booker said. "And a lot of them are using the rhetoric of the leaders in this country in their propaganda."

Booker's jam-packed Sunday swing through New Hampshire — to help Democratic candidates running in next month's election — was his first visit in more than two years to the state the traditionally holds the first primary in the race for the White House. And it comes after he made stops this month and in August in Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, the other early voting states on the primary and caucus calendar.

After the university event, the senator was headed to the state Democratic Party's Portsmouth campaign office to help kick off a canvas and later Booker was to team up with Second Congressional District Rep. Ann Kuster at a get-out-the-vote rally at Dartmouth College in Hanover.

The visits are helping to spur speculation that Booker is gearing up for a possible run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But Booker told the Associated Press that "I'm not even focusing on that" and will "start thinking about 2020" after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.