DENVER — Newark Mayor Cory Booker took the podium at the delegates’ breakfast this morning with a chip on his shoulder.
“I flew in a couple days ago and I’ve been jousted with and made fun of by mayors all across America who do not respect New Jersey. So allow me for a moment to talk about our state,” Booker told the crowd.
That inspired him to read a speech reinforcing New Jersey pride that turned out to be the highlight of the morning.
Booker started by recounting the revolutionary war, when New Jersey minutemen came to George Washington’s aide to turn the tide at the Battle of Trenton. He went on to talk about New Jersey citizens’ achievements in subsequent wars, up until the latest huge mobilization of reserve soldiers.
And the transcontinental railroad? The trains that crossed it were built in Paterson.
What about North Carolina being the "first in flight?"
“They’re wrong,” Booker said. The first American hot air balloon trip lifted off from New Jersey.
Booker didn’t want to take credit for conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, but brushed him aside as an unintended consequence radio, which was first broadcast from New Jersey.
New Jersey hosted the first intercollegiate football game. Hoboken is the birthplace of baseball.
The state leads the nation in all sectors, Booker said, and even gave a possibly unconscious hint of what the Inverness Hotel will look like once delegates return from the Pepsi Center.
“I saw Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper yesterday bragging about beer,” said Booker. “Please note, not only do I believe that any of our politicians can drink any other states’ politicians under the table. Except for Cryan. He and I are teetotalers. But the first Brewery, where was it? In Hoboken. And the nation’s first beer city?… Newark, New Jersey.”
Booker did hit on a few serious notes, and mentioned that he sees it as the state’s “sacred duty” to advance Barack Obama’s vision for the country. And he said New Jersey would have no problem doing that at the Pepsi Center tonight, even if the delegates don’t have the best seat in the house.
“I’m telling you when we get to that convention center let them send us to the back of the hall. Because I can tell you that New Jersey is loud, we are proud, we can be heard above the crowd,” he said. “I’m so proud that the state bird is the Eastern Gold Finch, but today we’ve got to make it about being the peacock.”