2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker says he’s fed up with inaction on gun reform after mass shootings, calling the oft-repeated refrain of politicians who offer “thoughts and prayers” to victims “just bullsh**.”
“When I’m President of the United States, I’m taking a fight to this issue like folks have never seen before, because we’re better than this is a country. It’s a uniquely American problem. No other country has this kind of carnage,” Booker said to David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” airing Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN. “We are not going to give thoughts and prayers, which to me is just bullsh**. And I’m sorry to say it as a man of faith, but I was taught that faith without works is dead.”
This week, Booker unveiled what he dubbed a “simple” gun violence prevention plan that would ban assault weapons and make gun licenses require fingerprints, an interview and completion of a gun safety course. Booker would also take executive actions beginning on his first day as president, his campaign said.
“We’re going to bring a fight with everything that I have to solve this problem because it’s solvable and we know it,” the New Jersey senator said in the wake of three high-profile deadly shootings in the US in the past two weeks.
Booker also singled out his 2020 Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s support for voting rights for convicted felons still in prison. Sanders said the right to vote should be extended “even for terrible people” like the Boston Marathon bomber during a CNN Town Hall in April, and Booker argued that the ensuing debate has distracted from the larger issue of mass incarceration.
“Bernie Sanders is my valued colleague, but I look at his state that has 1% African Americans; I think their prison population is like 11% black,” the former Newark, New Jersey, mayor said. “Incarcerating people that shouldn’t be there – that’s what I want the debate to be about, the urgency of mass incarceration, the over-incarceration of black and brown people, mentally ill people, drug-addicted people that shouldn’t be in jail, should be getting treatment, should be getting health care.”
“And we’ve got a system that’s so screwed up and now we’re debating whether the Boston Bomber should have the right to vote? Come on. Come on, this is what happens in this country that distracts from the real urgencies that we have,” Booker said.
Booker also slammed the debate between socialism and capitalism within the Democratic Party, saying he’s frustrated about the focus on it leading up to the 2020 election.
“If that’s where the Democratic Party is going to be leading the debate, we are in trouble. Do I believe in capitalism? Hell yes,” he said.
Watch the full interview on “The Axe Files” Saturday at 7 p.m. on CNN.