CANNONBALL – As Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s four-day tour neared Standing Rock, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey disclosed why he joined the North Dakota Democrat’s last push before Election Day.
“She corrals me all the time to advocate her issues,” Booker said. “God, I’ve got so many stories, some times things I’m really reluctant, but that goes to show the power that she has. She brings people together on both sides of the political aisle.”
As an example, Booker said Heitkamp came to him on the oil export issue, which at first, as an environmentalist in support of alternative energy, he was firmly against.
“Next thing you know she had somebody from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party talking her line about oil,” Booker said. “To me, it shows the kind of person she is, she is the kind of person in Washington that we really need.
“She’s the antidote to what ails us. We harden ourselves and our political positions and we often don’t listen to each other. She has a way of chipping away at that and getting to the heart.”
Heitkamp and Booker have also found solidarity on defending the Affordable Care Act.
“I think it’s America’s biggest issue, to have a political party that has been openly hostile to the components of the Affordable Care Act like pre-existing conditions and protecting people, whether it’s diabetes or asthma, or more serious conditions,” Booker said. “Heidi was the deciding vote, the ACA was protected by one vote.”
Lifetime caps, insurance premiums, and mental health coverage is also on the chopping block if the Affordable Care Act is declared unconstitutional by a Texas court, Booker said. Heitkamp’s vote to keep the Affordable Care Act intact proves she is willing to do what’s best for North Dakotans, he said.
Booker, named as a Presidential candidate hopeful and a rebel who is willing to break laws for the good of the people, said Heitkamp’s spark is what is needed to reach across the aisle.
“I love that kind of independence, that’s why this last state I am traveling to, I’m standing with Heidi Heitkamp,” Booker said.
Nearing Standing Rock, Booker said he was paying attention to allegations of voter suppression against Native people. The problem is not isolated to North Dakota.
“I am familiar and I am outraged, outraged that we are a nation for democracy and that there are people now who the only way they can win is through dirty tricks, to suppress people’s vote,” Booker said. “Are you really trying to get back to the kind of elections that Putin holds in Russia, where you suppress people’s votes, where you intimidate people, where you have rigged elections?
“We are the United States of America. We should be the most vibrant democracy there is. And whether you are Native American, Scotch-Irish, we are a country that believes everybody is equal. At the ballot box whether you are a multi-millionaire or whether you are struggling as a waitress, you are equal at that ballot box, and I am appalled that these dirty tricks are being played everywhere from North Carolina to North Dakota.”
Booker is the first African American Senator in New Jersey, and as the former mayor of Newark he helped lower crime and reduce the city’s budget deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars. He once testified against current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and sought to limit President Donald Trump’s executive order powers. In 2010, while Booker was mayor, he personally responded to a tweet for help shoveling an elderly person’s driveway by showing up himself.
In 2012, Booker also saved a woman from a house fire despite suffering smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his hands.
In an era where lies have replaced truths, where division has banished unity, Booker believes that America will survive the confusion if moderates can be elected to office.
“We loose Heidi we loose our opportunity to create a nation that really sees itself as one nation under God and not multiple factions, and that’s why I’m fighting so hard for Heidi,” Booker said. “One of the greatest threats to our country is not any individual but the divisions that are festering, that take us away from a sense of common purpose and Heidi is one of those folks we urgently need to address that issue in this country.”
While traveling in a red state, Booker plans to keep his message simple.
“I’m just going to tell the truth that I am a guy from further out on the wing than she is and she finds ways all the time to bring me together with conservatives to find common ground. There is nobody better in the Senate for pulling people from the left and right together for the people.”
They’ve worked together on issues like the farm bill, oil exports, children issues, on human trafficking issues, and for senior rights, Booker said.
Whether on the Senate floor or having dinner at her Heitkamp’s Washington, D.C. apartment, she’s always working to bring people together on issues, Booker said.
“She makes some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had, and when you get together around a bowl of guacamole with her, and chips, it’s policy for North Dakota,” Booker said.
“I have a lot of respect for. She may not be one of the leaders in the Senate who catches the headlines, but she captures the issues that are important for people and we need that in America, and I’ll fight for her every single day even though we don’t agree all the time.”
Heitkamp's four-day tour follows her Thursday's rally at the Fargo Air Museum. She will be stopping to hold rallies in Williston Saturday morning, and later to New Town, Rugby, and Belcourt.
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