Speculation around Democratic leaders potentially running for president in 2020 continues to roil, and just like his colleagues, this New Jersey senator is staying mum. On Tuesday's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Cory Booker wouldn't confirm a 2020 presidential run, saying only that he would be "running." Of course, Booker's Senate seat is up for reelection in 2020, which allowed him to be coy about just which election he plans to run in.
"Are you running in 2020?" Colbert abruptly asked him toward the end of the interview. Booker faltered while the audience cheered, but before he could respond, Colbert interrupted to say, "Actually, I’ll let you off the hook ... I will let you off the hook and let you know that you are running in 2020."
Looking relieved, Booker laughed and clarified, "What you know and the audience doesn’t is that I’m up for reelection as a United States Senator in 2020. So I will be running in 2020."
Rumors about Booker's potential bid for 2020 have built steam over the last few months, as he's campaigned for Democrats across the country and lead policy efforts for a federal jobs guarantee and legalizing marijuana nationwide. As the midterms approach, Booker has visited more than 20 states, supporting Democratic Senate candidates and measuring his appeal to the electorate. Campaigning for Senate hopeful Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Booker apparently spent time after the event greeting every supporter who wanted a photo with him.
Like Massachusetts' Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and New York's Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrats also rumored to be eyeing the 2020 presidential election, Booker pledged to stop taking campaign money from corporate political action committees in February.
According to The New York Times, Booker is contact with Jim Demers, a veteran Democratic lobbyist who helped organize both of President Obama's presidential campaigns in New Hampshire. "I am one that really believes 2020 for Democrats needs to be a candidate who is all about the future, and Cory Booker is at the top of my list," Demers told The Washington Times. "I have been watching this guy for several years now…. He has got, I think, that 'it' factor."
By spring, the notion of a potential presidential run was already being tied to Booker. In April, Julia Ioffe at The Atlantic began an interview with Booker by saying, "First question: Are you running?"
"Every morning I’m trying to get as much exercise as possible. I’m more biking," replied Booker.
Equally evasive on The View in March, when asked whether he was a contender for president in 2020, Booker said, "I am a contender for the 2018 midterms where I’m going to be fighting for every Democratic candidate." When the hosts called out his "non-answer answer," Booker laughed and pushed his point saying, "This is the most important midterm election of our lifetime."
Even at his most frank, Booker is keeping his options open. In an interview with Politico, he emphasized his dedication to his home state of New Jersey, over a presidential run. "That’s my focus: Doing everything I can to ensure I’ve earned New Jersey’s support," he said. "I’m not closing off... any other options, but my focus is my reelection in 2020."