Sen. Cory Booker over the weekend expressed a willingness to meet with well-known anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, raising eyebrows given his criticism just days earlier of 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden’s remarks about being able to work with segregationists.
The New Jersey Democrat said many found Biden’s remarks “hurtful.” But at a campaign event in Nevada on Saturday, Booker was asked whether he would meet with Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan. Booker appeared to downplay the possibility but did not rule it out, while making clear he is “familiar” with Farrakhan’s beliefs.
“I don’t feel the need to do that, but I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say,” Booker said about a potential meeting with Farrakhan. He then discussed his own awareness of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam from when he was mayor of Newark, N.J., stating, “I am very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and values.”
President Trump’s campaign promptly called out Booker for his tepid remarks on Farrakhan, who has referred to Jews as “termites,” called Hitler a “very great man” and was even kicked off Facebook for his messages.
“President Trump has repeatedly condemned racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism,” the campaign said in a statement. “Why can’t Democrats do the same?”
Booker, meanwhile, was among several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates criticizing Biden for talking about being able to work with segregationist senators like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.
“At least there was some civility,” Biden said in the remarks that touched off the controversy. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.” Biden recalled that Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy.”
“This is about him evoking a terrible power dynamic that he showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity to by invoking this idea that he was called son by white segregationists who, yes, they see in him their son,” Booker said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “I heard from many, many African-Americans who found the comments hurtful.”
In a speech on Saturday, Booker also slammed Trump, claiming Trump wants the 2020 election “to be about hate.”
Booker’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment from Fox News.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.
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