Booker's potential 2020 bid is generating buzz among Democratic activists, says political reporter

Veteran New Hampshire political reporter Paul Steinhauser says Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad MORE (D-N.J) is generating buzz among Democratic activists over a potential run for president in 2020, citing the senator’s headlining of two major Democratic events over the weekend. 

Steinhauser, who covers politics for the Concord Monitor News, called Booker's two-day trip to the primary state a “tune up” for things to come ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, saying the New Jersey senator drew enthusiastic crowds. 

“He’s [Booker] generating some excitement, some buzz — this trip was definitely a tuneup, regardless of what he says, this trip was a tune up for things to come,” Steinhauser told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton during an interview that aired on Monday.

“You could tell from the crowds that were there, there’s excitement among the Democratic activists, and right now, that’s who were talking about because the general population is really not plugged into this yet,” he continued.

Steinhauser emphasized that Booker’s trip was lead by prominent New Hampshire Democratic strategist, Jim Demers. Demers, who formerly served on then-Senator Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden to debate for first time as front-runner John Kerry: Play based on Mueller report is 'an act of public service' Obama photographed alongside Clooney on boat in Italy MORE’s campaign in 2008, said he would back Booker if he decides to run for president.

“He steered Obama in ’08, now he’s steering Booker,” the veteran journalist told Hill.TV.

Booker traveled to New Hampshire over the weekend, where he headlined New Hampshire Democratic Party’s post-midterm election victory celebration, and an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

At the event, the New Jersey Democrat told reporters that his trip to New Hampshire made him feel “very encouraged,” and “a lot more confident in making decisions moving forward.”

But Booker didn’t specify his timetable on when he plans on making an official decision, saying most of his focus has been on the lame duck congressional period and a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill.

Steinhauser told Hill.TV that he’s surprised that there haven’t been any official president campaign announcements yet, especially from Democrats who have openly mused about their White House ambitions like former Housing Secretary Julián Castro.

Castro previously said that he’s “inclined” to run in 2020, and has traveled to New Hampshire three times over the past year.

Steinhauser thinks that Democratic hopefuls are likely waiting until the end of the year to make an official announcement to get an edge on fundraising due to campaign finance laws, which limit and restrict how much a candidate can raise throughout a campaign.

“Everyone’s playing that little wait and see mode a little bit longer than expected — fundraising may be part of it, too because once you declare, the rules change, so maybe people are waiting until the end of this quarter, which will be the end of the year,” he said.

–Tess Bonn