New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, clarified that he would not meet with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite.
“I will not sit — I will not sit down with Louis Farrakhan, period. And I reject anybody who preaches that kind of bigotry and hate towards other Americans,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Asked if he stood by his remarks made in June at a faith breakfast campaign event in South Carolina, in which he said in answer to a question from an audience member about whether he would avoid Farrakhan over his anti-Semitism, Booker, a Democrat, said: “As mayor I met with lots of folks talking to him. I have heard Minister Farrakhan’s speeches for a lot of my life, so I don’t feel like I 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.”
A Booker spokeswoman later told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Cory unequivocally rejects and condemns Farrakhan’s hateful views.” She noted that Booker has never met with Farrakhan.
The senator said on “CNN Sunday” that his his statement from the June event was taken out of context.
In recent months Farrakhan has called Jews “satanic,” has accused them of controlling the government and Hollywood, and has called Hitler a “great man.”
Earlier this month, Twitter took down a 2018 tweet in which he compared Jews to termites following the rollout of new new rules prohibiting “language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.”
Last year, Farrakhan wrote on Twitter, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” The tweet linked to a video of a speech he gave marking the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, his 1995 rally advocating empowerment for black men.