Prez 2020: Biden Mostly Forgiven on NJ Social Media, Booker’s South Carolina Firewall and Other Incantations

As former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce his 2020 Presidential Campaign, Insider NJ editor Max Pizarro recounts five of Biden's best campaign moments in NJ.

They started trickling out on Facebook, pictures of Joe Biden with New Jersey politicos who appeared with him in the past, most of them featuring un-grimacing and un-contorted faces as Uncle Joe grabbed them affectionately from behind.

So it was that these mostly Booker-loyal forces gently expressed their solidarity with the former Vice President, squirming now amid Trump-era reevaluations of his one-man Normandy-like invasions of that precious 21st century beachhead called personal space.

To a person, they were forgiving and pro-Biden.

“He was cool,” Newark Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad told InsiderNJ in reference to Biden, looking back at that time when the Delaware Senator made a New Jersey appearance in the lead up to the 2008 elections.

Biden was a presidential candidate then.

“That’s when all of the candidates running for office pitched to my union [SEIU] for our support,” Muhammad recalled. “I was an international officer at the time and I had prepared questions for all of them. Everyone of them after my question came up to me and approached except Hillary Clinton.”

Former Monmouth County Senator Ellen Karcher likewise shared a reminiscence about Biden that she chalked up to avuncular innocence.

He still has friends here, going back to the Democratic State Convention in 1998 when even today operatives recalled the best speech they ever heard in Atlantic City, delivered by the event’s keynote speaker, then-Senator Joe Biden.

But those same people stirred to nostalgia by Biden’s troubles also prioritize the presidential candidacy of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

They’re with Booker.

Still, they’re prepared with second choices if the junior senator from New Jersey doesn’t do well in South Carolina.

“That’s Cory’s firewall,” one Essex County source told InsiderNJ. “He needs to keep it close in Iowa and New Hampshire and then really deliver in South Carolina. If he doesn’t do that, stick a fork in him.”

Celebrating Booker’s CNN Town Hall appearance in the southern primary state, Booker allies off the record are quick to dismiss Senator Kamala Harris from California as “not ready for prime time.”

“Just not on Booker’s level intellectually,” one source said.

But many of those individuals here who acknowledge having to be with Booker because of state politics welcome a chance to talk about their preferences if Booker weren’t in the contest; or, in the words of one source, that alternative “I will support when Booker loses South Carolina and is forced to drop out of the race.”

One source was quick to embrace U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), whose national political director hails from Elizabeth, and cut her political teeth as a progressive leader opposed to the South Jersey power structure. The same source eagerly expounded on the enduring virtues of “Bernie,” while also acknowledging the breakout star potential of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I love Pete,” said the source, already unabashedly on a first name basis with the Hoosier.

“I love Pete more than Cory,” the source added with a nefarious New Jersey grin.

Buttigieg – advised by another New Jersey star, Jennifer Holdsworth – buzz prompted a bar stool discussion earlier this week about how the openly gay local executive could become the Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora of the 2020 presidential campaign. Gusciora was nearly a joke when he first got into the 2018 contest for mayor, with sources spinning a professional fever for judge’s robes as the leveraging reason for Gusciora’s presence in the contest. But a week before the election a source told InsiderNJ in reference to the first openly gay member of the New Jersey Legislature, “Reed’s going to win. Yes, it’s a black town, but black voters, yes, even those voting members of churches, are ready for an out-of-the-box candidate. They’re tired of black leadership producing the same results.

“Their collective fatigue is going to individually cancel out all the African American candidates, produce a Paul Perez-Reed Gusciora runoff, and ultimately a Reed win,” the source explained.

It ended up happening exactly that way.

There was a mildly tugging social media undercurrent about Buttigieg, mostly engineered by his fellow millennials.  “We don’t think about sexuality the way your generation was made to think about it,” one millennial source said when asked about the identifying characteristic of her generation.

Harris: $11 million in the first quarter.

Sanders: $18.2 million.

Buttigieg: $7 million.

The mayor was the favor of the week.

Then there was former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

He undercut Cory, a source fretted, but acquiesced when reminded of how thin the Texan’s resume is compared to that of Booker.

Booker was a mayor and is a U.S. Senator.

O’Rourke was a city councilman in El Paso and a congressman who failed at a stab for the U.S. Senate.

If Booker looked green in the big political scheme of things, O’Rourke early by comparison looks positively emerald.

O’Rourke seemed to deviously pilfer a favorite Booker MLK quotation at his just-north-of-the-border campaign kickoff, relentlessly channeling a Bobby Kennedy vibe above the horde, right down to the way he parts his hair, a visual that likely plays on the political imagination of Boston-born BK fan New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

It was volatile.


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One response to “Prez 2020: Biden Mostly Forgiven on NJ Social Media, Booker’s South Carolina Firewall and Other Incantations”

  1. If Biden were Republican the media and the Democrats would want the death penalty. Hypocrites. Old Spartacus – all women need to believed – seems to have lost his tears of rage, like he did for Katie Brennan. What a phony. Booker is as real as his friend T-Bone.

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