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Cory Booker Announced as Iowa Banquet Headliner After 'Spartacus' Gaffe

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) will headline Iowa Democrats’ marquee fall banquet October 6, raising his national profile further on the heels of an embarrassing performance during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Booker struck a defiant tone this week as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in declaring his willingness to face expulsion from the Senate by “releasing” a pre-cleared email regarding Kavanaugh’s views about racial profiling during his time as a top White House aide to President George W. Bush.

Calling it an act of “civil disobedience,” Booker claimed reading the email to the committee “is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment.”

“I am right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” the New Jersey Democrat said, later adding that he was “knowingly violating the rules.”

Reacting to the stunt, Bill Burck, a Bush administration presidential records representative, told the Washington Post that the material had been cleared for release that morning. “We were surprised to learn about Senator Booker’s histrionics this morning because we had already told him he could use the documents publicly,” Burck said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We cleared the documents last night shortly after Senator Booker’s staff asked us to,” he added. “In fact, we said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public.”

Nonetheless, Booker garnered some of the national spotlight, as well as the mockery of some of his Republican colleagues on the committee. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said, “running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate.”

“I hope that the senator will reconsider his decision because no senator deserves to sit on this committee or serve in the Senate, in my view, if [they] decide to be a law unto themselves and willingly throws out the rules of the Senate and the determination of confidentiality and classification,” said Cornyn. “That is irresponsible and conduct unbecoming of a senator.”

In planning to visit Iowa before the November midterms, Booker, elected in 2012, is inviting further national attention. “We’ve said all along that we welcome anyone who wants to help us get Democrats elected in 2018, and we’re happy to have Senator Booker’s help,” party chairman Troy Price said in an interview with Politico. “This dinner is only about the great opportunities ahead of us in this election this fall.”

Other Senate Democrats mentioned as 2020 prospects, such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have steered clear of the early presidential proving ground.

Without referencing him by name, President Donald Trump described Booker’s treatment of Kavanaugh as foolish. The president said while addressing supporters in Fargo North Dakota.

It is very hard for Republicans and conservatives, we have a great judge right now being looked at to go up and be the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court. This is a great intellect, he’s a great man, he’s a fine person. And the way they’re screaming and shouting and — it’s a disgrace to our country, I don’t know if anybody has been watching, they are making fools out of themselves. One of those people I will be running against in two and a half years, I will be running against them and I look so forward to it because we’ll be able to give it back.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden have been in touch with Iowa Democrats, but have not yet made plans to visit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Joshua Caplan

More From: Joshua Caplan
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