U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez thinks New Jersey’s junior senator got a boost from last week’s debates.
“I think he was the winner of that debate, and a whole host of political analysts said so,” Menendez said of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. “A whole host of focus groups said so, but more importantly, I looked at that whole debate, and I said to myself there’s a man who showed that he has presidential timber, and he can bring us together in common cause, the great uniter. And if there was ever a country that needed greater uniting at this time, it’s ours.”
On Wednesday, Booker joined nine other Democratic presidential hopefuls, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the race’s frontrunner, and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.).
Until that point, Booker ran a somewhat muted campaign in line with his focus on love and peace, but one Wednesday, the senator went on the offensive, leveling in person attacks against Biden over the latter’s record on criminal justice that had then only been made via proxy.
The only post-debate poll released thus far pegged national support for Booker at 3%, only slightly above his 1.7% Real Clear Politics polling average.
Those figures put Booker in seventh place, where he has languished since announcing his presidential bid in February, but numerous race-watchers named Booker as the debate’s winner.
It remains to be seen whether Democratic voters agree with analysts, but the debate performance is likely to give Booker a spring in his step as he embarks on a multi-state tour ahead of the third round of debates, which will take place on September 12 and 13.
“I think that was a huge boost in his efforts,” Menendez said. “And I’ll look forward to the September debates and beyond.”