Cory Booker Is More Worried About “Poverty of Empathy” than Actual Poverty

The Democratic 2020 candidate said he'd been reading the work of conservative writer David Brooks and it was “all up in [his] head”
Cory Booker is more worried about “poverty of empathy” than actual poverty

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is getting handily roasted for saying the poverty he’s most concerned about is the “poverty of empathy” — instead of, you know, just plain old poverty.

Speaking to NPR, the 2020 candidate said he was reading the work of conservative writer David Brooks, and it’s “all up in [his] head” and making him think about the “crisis in our country” differently.

“I think the poverty that most worries me is the poverty of empathy, the poverty of compassion, because you need that to do something else,” said the New Jersey senator and former mayor of Newark, one of the poorest cities in the U.S. “And so I really do challenge myself every day. Like, how can I talk about this in a way that touches and inspires other people to be more aware?”


Booker, long known for his message of across-the-aisle civility, is polling below the top five in the 2020 primaries.

Though he made his comments last week, the general public only caught on to them Monday after CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck, who covers Booker, tweeted them out.

Numerous left-leaning journalists — as well as leftist presidential candidate Mike Gravel — pointed out that Booker’s comments were, at best, tone-deaf as more than 12% of Americans live in actual poverty, according to the Census Bureau. The United Nations estimates that more than half of the world’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and more than 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. Yet, Booker is more concerned about empathy for Republicans.

“Cory Booker, the candidate of the preening centrists who like David Brooks and worry about ‘a deficit of empathy,’ has absolutely nothing to say to those who inhabit the vast desolate lands in America and live in real poverty,” tweeted Gravel. “His whole candidacy is a pageant of virtue-signaling.”

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during an Iowa Democratic Party Black Caucus Reception, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)