Booker dodges VP questions in Cleveland
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CLEVELAND — New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) repeatedly dodged questions Thursday about whether he wants to be Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE’s running mate.

Reporters asked the freshman senator several times if he was open to joining the Democratic ticket, and he was consistently cautious in his remarks.

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“I’m here to talk about this convention,” he responded to a question about whether he had been approached.

“You’re talking to a former football player. I’m happy to do whatever the coach wants,” he said to another question about whether he wanted the role.

The questions came at a Democratic event in Cleveland held to criticize the nearby Republican National Convention. He was joined by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-Minn.).

While the Democrats excoriated Republicans, Booker also found time to heap praise on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and defended her from the “hyperbolic hate” directed at her from the GOP convention hall.

“The Hillary Clinton I know is one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met, one of the hardest working people in all of politics,” he said.

Booker’s remarks came amid reports that he is still in the mix to run as Clinton’s No. 2. She is expected to name her selection within days, before Democrats kick off their own nominating convention in Philadelphia Monday.

Other names considered possible vice presidential picks include Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Va.), Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, Labor Secretary Thomas PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.).

As Republicans prepared for the final day of their event, portrayed by critics as disorganized and openly contentious, Democrats painted the powwow as beyond the pale.

Franken described the convention and its speakers as “startlingly ugly ... very banana republic.”

And Booker said he didn’t plan to come to Ohio to target the GOP convention but felt compelled to do so after the first few days of speeches.

“What they’re coming out and doing, has nothing to do with a contest of ideas and values,” he said. “This is perversion of hatred ... steeped in hypocrisy.”