Booker says his presidential campaign is winning where it counts. That doesn’t include polls.

Updated Aug 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker insists that his 2020 presidential campaign is alive and well, despite recent polls showing him far off the pace.

Booker, D-N.J., polled just 1 percent in the latest Monmouth University survey of likely Iowa caucus goers and 2 percent when Quinnipiac University asked Democratic voters and independents who lean Democratic across the country. He also trails the early frontrunners in fundraising.

“I’m actually surprised that these small polls where the margin of error is so high is capturing so much attention when history shows that the polls aren’t predictive,” Booker said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“This is still a long way out,” Booker said. Referring to the twice-a-day practices that football teams use to get into shape before the season, he added, “As a guy who used to play football, I call this is August double-days before we even get to preseason games. This is a long way to go before we get to the game time, so to speak."

In Iowa, the site of the first 2020 presidential contest next February, Booker said he was strong in the categories that do predict how well a candidate will fare: endorsements and organization. Over the weekend, for example, a sixth Iowa state legislator, Rep. Heather Matson of Ankeny, backed him.

“The kind of things that are predictive is where we’re leading — we’re leading on endorsements from Iowa state legislatures, we’re leading on endorsements from mayors and city council people,” Booker said. “We’re getting big crowds at our events. We’re getting tons of people to sign commitment to caucus cards and we still have six months to go.”

Despite his inability to break through in the polls so far, Booker is attracting a lot of attention for his call for licensing gun owners and for his speech last week in Charleston, South Carolina in which he called on Americans to speak out against racism by saying, “You are either an agent of justice or you are contributing to the problem.”

Back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, pushed gun safety into the forefront, with even President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talking about expanding background checks for gun purchases and for encouraging states to pass “red flag” laws allowing courts to take away weapons from people deemed to be threats.

McConnell so far has refused to take up House-passed background check legislation and Trump has threatened to veto it.

The National Rifle Association, the powerful gun-rights lobby, spent more than $54 million in 2016, more than any other interest group, to elect Trump and keep Republicans in control of the House and Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

But Trump more recently said he would support “intelligent background checks,” and McConnell told a Kentucky radio station that such legislation would come before the Senate this fall.

Booker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he wanted to see more than words.

“I believe very little that this president says,” Booker said on CNN. “This is the time for decisive action, for Congress to go back, for this president to lay out a real substantive plan, but he’s doing none of that."

Should Congress not take action on gun safety, Booker said on ABC that lawmakers who blocked legislation should fear losing their seats, with the next president leading the way.

“We need a president that is willing to drive forward on this issue and hold people accountable,” Booker said on ABC.

“And if they fail to be accountable, we can begin to win seats, flip. In the same way the NRA in the past has been able to make such a big difference in elections, so much so that many Republicans are afraid of them, we can flip that around and make them afraid of the overwhelming majorities of Americans that will hold them accountable.”

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