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Booker: 'No great badge of courage' for calling Trump 'a racist'

Booker: 'No great badge of courage' for calling Trump 'a racist'
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerZombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why Absences force Senate to punt vote on Biden nominee MORE (D-N.J.), who this week has repeatedly been on the attack against Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, said Thursday it wasn't enough to call President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE a "racist," adding that it was necessary to confront institutional racism.

Booker didn't mention the former vice president in his remarks, but the comments appeared to be pointed at Biden, who will share a debate stage with the New Jersey senator next week.

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"It is easy to call Donald Trump a racist now — you get no great badge of courage for that," Booker said in an address to the National Urban League on Thursday. "The question is, what were you doing to address structural inequality and institutional racism throughout your life?" 

"Don’t just tell us what you’re going to do," he continued. "Tell us what you’ve already done."

"Don’t tell us you’re going to be a champion for our communities when you become president if you haven’t been a champion already," he said. 

Booker is well behind Biden in the polls, but has drawn media attention with his repeated barbs targeting the former vice president.

Biden has a big lead among black voters in the presidential race, according to polls, and Booker's comments to the National Urban League could be a way to get such voters to take a second look at the race.

Booker and Biden exchanged barbs on Wednesday over criminal justice reform. 

The New Jersey senator called Biden an “architect of mass incarceration," referring to the 1994 crime bill that Biden helped pass in the Senate. 

“For a guy that helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country,” Booker told reporters in Detroit after appearing at an NAACP forum. 

Biden's campaign quickly hit back at Booker, who will be standing next to the former vice president at next week's presidential debate. 

“Since next week’s debate format will give Senator Booker twice as much time to make his attacks than it allows Vice President BidenJoe BidenChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Poll: Majority back blanket student loan forgiveness MORE to respond to them, we thought we would begin to respond now,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager. 

Beddingfield then attacked Booker's record on criminal justice as the mayor of Newark, N.J., saying he “has some hard questions to answer about his role in the criminal justice system.”

She also accused Booker of "running a police department that was such a civil rights nightmare that the US Department of Justice intervened.”

The response from the Biden campaign was not only a response to Booker's comments but also a preview of the former vice president's strategy in next week's debate. 

Biden will stand between Booker and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' Biden's plan for Central American kids is no substitute for asylum State Department bans Guatemalan lawmaker from entering US MORE (D-Calif.), who hit Biden on civil rights during the first Democratic debate, at next week's debate.