Booker targets African American voters in new South Carolina radio ad

Booker targets African American voters in new South Carolina radio ad
© Greg Nash

White House hopeful Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEx-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets Exclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency MORE (D-N.J.) on Friday released a new radio ad set to air across South Carolina on stations with large African American audiences as he works to gin up support ahead of the Palmetto State’s crucial primary in February.

The ad underscores Booker’s family history of facing persecution as African Americans and discusses his seven-year tenure as the mayor of Newark, N.J.

“When I was a baby, my parents tried to move us into a neighborhood with great public schools. But realtors wouldn’t sell us a home because of the color of our skin. Activists ran a sting operation to get us into a house. They changed the course of my entire life,” Booker says in the ad.

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“So over 20 years ago I moved to Newark, New Jersey, to fight slumlords and help families stay in their homes. We are better when we help each other. We are better when we stand together. Together, we can build a country where parents can afford to put food on the table; where there are good-paying jobs; where our criminal justice system keeps us safe instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins.”

The ad comes as Booker wages an uphill battle to break into the field’s top tier. A Quinnipiac University survey released last month focusing on South Carolina’s primary found Booker polling at just 2 percent overall, as well as 2 percent among black voters.

The New Jersey Democrat, the only black American left in the 2020 primary field, has struggled to chip into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Trump outraises Biden in July, surpasses billion for the cycle Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would 'gut' Americans With Disabilities Act MORE’s lead among black voters; Biden earned the support of 44 percent of likely South Carolina primary voters who are African American. 

African American voters make up over 60 percent of the South Carolina Democratic primary electorate, and the Palmetto State’s nominating contest is viewed as a barometer for candidates’ appeal to black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc.

Booker’s campaign said it is confident it can work to win over large handfuls of voters in the state, an effort that could be buoyed by this week's withdrawal of Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTwitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation Virginia mayor refuses to resign over controversial Biden, 'Aunt Jemima' post Exclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board MORE (D-Calif.) from the 2020 primary race. 

"Here in South Carolina, you cannot win an election if you don't connect and engage with Black voters — and with this ad, we're speaking directly with voters across the state," Christale Spain, Booker's South Carolina state director, said in a statement. 

"Cory has spent his time in South Carolina as a presidential candidate talking with and more importantly, listening to Black voters. Every time he leaves a room here, the audience is won over — and we want to bring that emotion statewide."