Cory Booker drops out of 2020 presidential race
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Cory Booker drops out of 2020 presidential race

Democratic candidate had called for a revival of civic grace, saying moral clarity was necessary in trying times, but his campaign never caught fire and struggled with fundraising

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaks during the third Democratic presidential primary debate at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP)
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaks during the third Democratic presidential primary debate at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP)

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who at times would cite Torah on the campaign trail, is out of the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

“It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory,” Booker said Monday in an email to supporters, saying he simply did not have the funds to stay in the race less than a month ahead of the first nominating contest, in Iowa.

Booker has been deeply involved with the Jewish community since his days as a Rhodes scholar in the 1990s at Oxford University, where he co-chaired a Jewish studies group.

Booker, a Baptist, has showed off his Hebrew in public events for years.

Asked how his faith influenced his policy at a CNN town hall last March, Booker contrasted himself with US President Donald Trump, saying his faith embraced diversity.

“May I quote some Hebrew to you, cause I’ve studied the Torah too,” he said. “There’s a song sung during the High Holidays: ‘Ki veiti beit t’fila yikareh l’chol ha’amim’ — ‘May my house be a house of prayer for many nations.’”

From left, Democratic US presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced September 12, 2019, before a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Booker, who made gun control, closing the income gap and criminal justice reform central planks of his campaign, was a foreign policy centrist. He was close to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and was one of just a few of the Democrats running for president who said he would not automatically rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018.

Booker, an effervescent presence on the trail, had called for a revival of civic grace, saying moral clarity was necessary in trying times.

He earned praise from Democratic voters for advocating for criminal justice reform, called for raising taxes on the wealthy, and sought reforms to the health care system.

But his campaign never caught fire, and in recent months he languished at around two percent support nationally.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art, on June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The crowded Democratic field had been praised for being the most diverse in history, but the departure of Booker, 50, now leaves just one black candidate in the race, Deval Patrick, among the dozen candidates.

But the former Massachusetts governor is barely registering in the polls.

All six candidates who qualified for Tuesday’s debate — former vice president Joe Biden, senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer — are white.

Booker earned praise and gratitude from fellow Democratic candidates. “You made our politics better just by running,” Biden said.

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