Booker Reverses, Won’t Meet With Farrakhan

The senator was open to talking to him last month

July 21, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said on Sunday that he would not meet with anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan, after indicating last month that he would be open to the possibility.

"I will not sit down with Louis Farrakhan, period. And I reject anybody who preaches that kind of bigotry and hate toward other Americans," Booker told CNN's Dana Bash on State of the Union.

At a fundraiser in June, however, Booker said that he was "very familiar" with Farrakhan's "beliefs and values" and that he wouldn't rule out sitting down with him.

"I have met–I live in Newark so we have famous Mosque 25, we have Nation of Islam there," Booker said at a South Carolina prayer breakfast. "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. But, I live on a neighborhood where I'm getting guys on the streets offering and selling his works. I am very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and his values."

Farrakhan has come under fire for referring to Jews as "termites" and "Satanic," as well as spreading conspiracies that Jews control the government and that the Holocaust did not happen.

Several days before his remarks about Farrakhan, Booker raised his profile as a 2020 candidate when he attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for praising former segregationist senators with whom he had worked in the 1970s.

"Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone," Booker said at the time.