Between equally depressing updates from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s ongoing scandal, the Friday news cycle received a slightly less negative contribution in the form of Sen. Cory Booker‘s SXSW address. Attendees reported that the New Jersey lawmaker’s keynote focused largely on the more positive aspects of contemporary politics. However, it was the former Newark mayor’s decision to kinda sorta address rumors of a potential presidential run in 2020 that began turning heads outside of Austin.
Malika Saada Saar, senior counsel on civil and human rights at Google, broached the topic while moderating Booker’s panel. In response, the senator quipped, “I always say I’m running from the president, not for president.” Even so, he admitted, “I don’t know what the future holds, but at this time in my life, I want to be a fierce truth teller. Let’s not focus on 2020. Let’s work on the injustices that exist now.”
Following Trump’s win in November, Booker became a more outspoken critic of the president-elect than he already was — slamming Steve Bannon’s appointment and testifying against fellow Sen. Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. These and other public displays immediately stoked crestfallen Democrats and progressives, many of whom believed Booker was considering a spot on the 2020 ticket.
“Too many things can happen that can hurt people in our nation and around the globe if this President isn’t checked,” Booker told Baldwin, speaking at the Women’s March in Washington. “Right now, I don’t care about 2020. I don’t care about 2018.”
What’s more, Booker added, he was “not open to being president” at the moment and “[didn’t] even want to have the discussion right now.” Less than two months later, these otherwise self-assured statements don’t hold up to the senator’s admitting he doesn’t know what his future holds. But hey, at least Booker (and not Omarosa or another stand-in) made the comments himself.