Three 2020 presidential hopeful make stop in Gate City at party breakfast

Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP Nashua Democratic City Committee chairman and Nashua alderman at large Dave Tencza speaks with presidential candidate Michael Bennet, who was one of three candidates to visit the committee's grassroots breakfast on Sunday.

NASHUA – No matter which of the nearly two dozen Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for president comes out on top, the entire party must unify to vanquish the incumbent Republican, U.S. Senator and former Newark mayor Cory Booker told fellow Democrats on Sunday.

“The differences between us are so small compared to the differences between us and Donald Trump,” Booker said, addressing members and guests of the Nashua Democratic City Committee. The upcoming elections, Booker suggested, “are a referendum on the culture of our country.”

Booker, fresh off Saturday’s State Democratic Party convention in Manchester, was one of three Democratic primary candidates who appeared at the Nashua committee’s first Grassroots Campaign Kickoff Breakfast, which was hosted by City Moose Cafe & Catering at 23 Temple St.

Maryland Congressman John Delaney and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado joined Booker at the Nashua event. Delaney spoke briefly at the start of the program, stressing the importance of “bringing people together” and encouraging his fellow Democrats to take advantage of a “once in a generation opportunity … to build a new coalition based on decency and morality,” and calling Democrats’ success in flipping 41 seats in the U.S. House in the 2018 midterm election the work of “problem-solving candidates.”

Calling President Trump “a symptom of a disease … the disease of deviciveness,” Delaney said it’s “the calling of the Democratic party to respond … this is a problem we, the Democratic party, can solve.”

Bennet, who did not speak at Sunday’s event, greeted and chatted with many of the attendees after Booker concluded. Bennet was scheduled to appear in Merrimack later on Sunday, to take part in a “Merrimack PFAS community conversation” at the town’s Historical Society.

Earlier, Nashua alderman at large and Democratic City Committee Chairman Dave Tencza called Booker to the front of the cafe, where the candidate began by recalling his first trip to Nashua last year, just after voters elected Democratic candidates to all of Nashua’s 27 state representative seats.

The culture of America, Booker continued, “is slipping further and further into tribalism … people are hating each other. Families cannot even sit at the same table.

“And if we can’t get our family units together, if we can’t get our neighborhoods, our communities, together for a common cause, our adversaries are going to win.”

Booker touched upon his humble upbringing in Newark, where his family moved about the time he was born 49 years ago.

In his first run for public office – a seat on the Newark city council – he prevailed over the longtime incument he called “part of the political machine” of the city.

His car was vandalized, he received hate mail, and was warned about his safety, Booker said. But one day he met a community organizer, who was impressive not for his “celebrity” or ability to light up a room, but for his social activism, including leading a rent strike against the federal goverment – and winning.

America today, Booker continued, is facing “an impotence of empathy. Children are dying in communities like mine, from shootings that don’t even make the news.”

The 2020 general election, he said, “is about a lot of things, but it’s a referendum on us: What is the quality of our mercy? How courageous is our empathy,” he said to applause.

Patriotism, Booker said in closing, “is love of country.

“But you cannot love your country if you do not love your countrymen and countrywomen.”

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.