Read: Cory Booker: America's Most Famous Politician?
He is touted as the opponent that might have given Chris Christie a real challenge for the New Jersey Governor’s seat, is one of Twitter’s top ten most popular politicians with over one million followers, and is credited with helping to turn around New Jersey’s largest (and infamous) city – but Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he isn’t buying any of it.
“There’s an old song from my childhood, Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype”. You learn quickly in this job purpose is more important than popularity, that significance is much more important than celebrity. If you get distracted by any of those less important things you undermine your ability to get things done and do for the people," said Booker.
In an exclusive interview with NBC 10’s Lori Wilson set to air Monday, Booker - who may be considering a possible senate run - says he expects that the sequester will make it more difficult to improve on his platform of “strong neighborhoods, strong people and record reductions in violent crime” - but the democrat remains optimistic.
“There are struggles in our communities from Philly to New York to Camden. More people are working for less money…schools, this is the thick of the struggle that is going to ultimately define the character of our country in the long run,” said Booker.
Many of the city’s 280,000 plus residents think Booker is doing a good job. In a recent poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group, out of 404 likely voters - Booker received a 70-percent favorability rating, the Star Ledger reports. He hopes his work in Newark will be a model of all cities with similar struggles.
“I think Newark for too long has been disrespected, disregarded or just plain dissed. It’s about time this city’s being talked about all over the country, looked at, examined and most importantly loved. We should be a nation that loves our cities…they’ve been engines of economic opportunity,” he said.
While Booker does not think we are headed for another recession, he believes tough times are ahead.
“I just think that a lot more people are going to be hurt, that there won’t be growth as quickly as it should be, that we’re going to lose out on a significant amount of economic growth in our country. I don’t see us slipping back. I just see us not moving forward as quickly as we should," he said.
Though many have speculated that he will run for a major office in the near future, Booker says right now his focus is on his city.
“Senate? Maybe (I will) re-examine the governor position later in life,” Booker said. “I’m living the job of my dreams. If you paid me a billion dollars I wouldn’t change anything. Every day I get to wake up and help people, we’re doing this together and it’s a great feeling."
And to unwind from what he calls the 'job of his dreams', Booker turns to late-night television hosts and a little ice cream for help.
“This is a job that’s tough and there are some days I curl up on my couch with my two best friends Ben and Jerry and turn on two of my other two Stewart and Colbert and pray they make me laugh because it’s been that kind of day,” said Booker.
**Tune in this Monday for NBC10’s Lori Wilson entire interview with Mayor Cory Booker. We will also post that interview right here at NBC10.com.