Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) on Tuesday said he reads books like J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis to try to understand "other folks," saying they remind him of people from his neighborhood.
Booker, a first-term senator and former Newark mayor, was speaking at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference when he discussed his work to learn more about people outside of inner city Newark, New Jersey.
"I believe we have the ideas to make the change, but what we are lacking is a commitment. The moral sense of urgency, the fabric of our communities are hurting," Booker said. "I'm not just talking about inner city Newark. I've had the privilege now of traveling to midwestern communities, traveling to the rural south, traveling out west."
He went on to say books like Hillbilly Elegy help him understand people outside his district.
"We in this country have a common pain, but we are lacking a sense of common purpose that drove this country forward generation after generation, and that's what I am calling for us to do," Booker said.
Booker is in the process of planning a "red state farmers tour." While the senator said the tour will not have "lots of media coverage," it has further stoked speculation he will run for the White House in 2020.