CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker was in Charleston on Friday answering questions from students at the College of Charleston.
“Change does not come from Washington. It comes to Washington. From citizens active and engaged who make it happen,” Booker said early in the discussion.
The event was part of College of Charleston’s bipartisan Bully Pulpit series which, for years, has invited presidential candidates to chat with students.
Students asked questions about sexual assault prevention, criminal justice reform and immigration.
Booker also addressed his gun violence, climate change, expanding healthcare and his concerns that President Donald Trump is “tearing at the very fabric of our republic.”
Booker told Live 5’s Carter Coyle in an interview that ramping up supporters South Carolina is key for anyone who hopes to win the White House.
“This is an open state where anything can happen. That’s why, God willing I’m the nominee. I’m going to come back here and campaign and try to help South Carolinians up and down the ticket.”
When asked about low polling numbers, Booker said he wasn’t worried this early on.
“The field’s going to continue to thin out," he said."We feel really good in those early primary states.“Whether it was Jimmy Carter who was polling around 1% right now, Bill Clinton around 4%, even Barack Obama was losing here in SC this far out. He was 21 points behind Hilary Clinton. So the polls aren’t predictive – it’s what kind of grassroots effort you have.”
But he also said winning the nomination and beating President Trump isn’t enough.
“That’s the floor, not the ceiling,” he said. “There’s an urgency to get a new president, especially one who doesn’t just beat Donald Trump, but after that unites this country in common cause and common purpose again.”
Earlier in the day, Booker was in Florence speaking to AME church leaders
In response to that appearance, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said:
“It’s mighty rich for a guy who supports mandatory taxpayer funding of abortion to go in and talk to religious leaders about how he stands with them on issues informed by their faith. Maybe he’ll take a moment and explain whether or not he agrees with his fellow Democrats that churches who oppose the liberal social agenda should lose their tax-exempt status.”