Booker: Primary voters 'being denied' their candidates of choice

Booker: Primary voters 'being denied' their candidates of choice
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNew Hampshire state lawmaker switches support from Warren to Klobuchar Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday delivered an impassioned address about the dwindling number of candidates of color in the Democratic primary, warning that voters were not getting a fair opportunity to choose from a diverse group of candidates while noting there are more billionaires left in the Democratic field “than there are black people.”

"It’s a problem that caucus-goers here in Iowa and in Nevada and voters in South Carolina and New Hampshire are being denied the choices that they are telling us they want in February," Booker said at a campaign event in Iowa.

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Booker noted that Democrats needed a diverse coalition in order to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE

"And this is not just about individual candidates — it’s about the diverse coalition we need to defeat Donald Trump," he said.

Booker has denounced the dwindling number of candidates of color in the Democratic primary, pointing specifically to Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA MORE's (D-Calif.) recent exit from the race. 

"It’s a damn shame, frankly, that Kamala Harris’s voice is no longer in this race," Booker told BuzzFeed News's AM to DM.

“I’ve seen the bile, the anger, from my family members, to people in the Congressional Black Caucus, to leaders of color across this country who just don’t understand how we’ve gotten to a point now where there’s more billionaires in the 2020 race than there are black people,” he continued.

Six candidates, including billionaire Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Steyer proposes cuts for low- and middle-income families' taxes Warren to Sanders: 'I think you called me a liar on national TV' MORE, have qualified for the December debates, all of whom are white. 

Steyer called on the Democratic National Committee to "open up" its debate requirements this week to allow for a more diverse field. 

"Democrats need to engage voters from every part of the country, and that means making sure voters hear from a diverse group of candidates before they select our nominee," Steyer said in a statement. 

Booker himself has struggled to meet the qualifications to be on the December debate stage. 

The senator needs to reach two Democratic National Committee benchmarks by Dec. 12: Over 200,000 unique campaign donors and four polls showing him with the support of at least 4 percent of voters in order to qualify for the forum.

Booker has hit the fundraising requirements to qualify for the debate, but has yet to hit the polling threshold.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard on personal meeting with Sanders: 'He showed me the greatest respect' Warren-Sanders dispute thrusts gender into 2020 spotlight Deval Patrick knocks lack of diversity in Democratic debate MORE (D-Hawaii) and Andrew YangAndrew YangEvelyn Yang shares that she was sexually assaulted by doctor Buttigieg campaign reaches agreement with staff union Panel: Is Andrew Yang playing to win with Dave Chappelle endorsement and Iowa bus tour? MORE have also hit the fundraising threshold but need a fourth qualifying poll to make the stage.