U.S. Sen. Cory Booker sat on his presidential campaign bus and laughed as he explained how stands out — not compared to the field of 20 candidates running to secure the Democratic presidential nomination but to his girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson.
Some may know Booker as Dawson's boyfriend — who "taught me a lot of lessons about love," he said in March — but the New Jersey lawmaker has devoted his political career to improving the lives of citizens.
"I've spent my life running at the toughest problems that people said couldn't be cracked," he told "Primary Source."
As mayor of Newark, Booker and his team transformed the school system to be one of the top in the nation for low-income students.
While serving on the U.S. Senate, Booker ushered through legislation on criminal justice reform that resulted in thousands being liberated from prison. He's advocated for the end of juvenile solitary confinement in federal facilities, front-end sentencing reforms and making the hiring process fairer for former inmates.
"You're going to run for mayor in Newark, New Jersey — a city that for 60 years has been known for high poverty, high crime and high corruption. We turned it around," he said.
While serving in the Senate, Booker modernized New Jersey's transportation system, securing funds for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and tackling climate change.
One of Booker's proposals in the Senate is offering children in the United States what he calls baby bonds. Every child would receive a savings account of $1,000 in government deposits up to $2,000 annually, and its funds would be frozen until the child turns 18.
"It cuts through so much of the noise and would give everybody a stake in this economy and real wealth," Booker explained. "To invest in things, to create more wealth. If we can make sure that every kid, depending on their family's income, has a savings account up towards $50,000."
As the nation reels from mass shootings targeting religious and minority groups, Booker said that, if elected, he'll create a White House office to take on hate crimes and white supremacist violence.
"We can directly allocate resources," Booker said. "Coordinate between departments that often need coordination. So, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security and more can actually pull in important community groups that are often targeted by this."
"So much of this extremism, and so much frankly of the recruiting and radicalizing that happens in these online communities," he added. "That we're not taking accountability for nor holding these Internet platforms accountable for."