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Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: Booker dropped out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination on Jan. 13, 2020. Below is our original article on his candidacy.

Democrat Cory Booker is a New Jersey senator known for his optimistic views. The former mayor of Newark lived in one of the city's most distressed buildings until 2006 in a show of defiance against the landlord and the city.

Key facts about Cory Booker:
  • Current position: Senator from New Jersey — 5 years served
  • Age: 49
  • Born: Washington, D.C.
  • Undergraduate: Stanford (Rhodes Scholar)
  • Date candidacy announced: Feb. 1, 2019
  • % of votes in line with Trump, per FiveThirtyEight: 15.4%
  • Previous roles: Newark, N.J. city council, mayor of Newark
Cory Booker's stance on key issues:
Key criticisms of Cory Booker:
  • Corporate interests: Booker was the top recipient of Wall Street money in the 2014 election cycle. He also has a reputation as a friend of the pharmaceutical industry as well as Silicon Valley.
  • Self-promotion: He has been criticized as a grandstanding politician, highlighted by his "I am Spartacus" moment when he said he would jeopardize his Senate seat by releasing confidential documents during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
1 fun thing about Cory Booker:

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 candidates

Go deeper

White House: Over 500,000 new shots recorded Friday, highest since July 1

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The United States recorded more than half a million new COVID-19 vaccine shots on Friday, the highest number since July 1, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is continuing to spread across the United States and it now comprises over 80% of the coronavirus cases in the country, Jean-Pierre said. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that "vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death."

Biden to announce sanctions, other efforts to address crisis in Cuba amid protests

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce sanctions against one entity and two Cuban individuals this afternoon and provide details on his administration's efforts to improve internet connectivity in Cuba, a senior administration official said Friday.

Why it matters: After initially hoping to place the issue on the back burner, the White House has recently ramped up its focus on Cuba amid protests on the island and in the United States, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

  • The president is also expected to make announcements on remittances and plans for U.S. embassy augmentation, the official said.
  • The official noted that the administration is in talks with private sector providers about the possibility of providing wireless LTE communications to the Cuban people.
  • "Given the protest of July 11, it is important for U.S. diplomats to engage directly with the Cuban people and if we can do that in a way that ensures the safety of U.S. personnel, that is something that we will undertake," he said, noting that the president would announce more details later this afternoon.

The details: The president will meet today with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban-American, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), among other political and community leaders and artists.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an outspoken voice on Cuban issues, is not expected to attend the meeting.
  • The meeting follows a series of engagements by Cedric Richmond and the Office of Public Engagement with the Cuban-American community, the official said.

What they're saying: "We're gonna do everything we can to keep Cuba on the front burner, so we can keep the conversation on the rights of the Cuban people and their rights to manifest peacefully," the official said on the call with reporters.

Be smart: Cuba is a tricky political issue for Democrats, who are split on the matter. The president was defeated by Donald Trump in South Florida during the 2020 election, and Democrats fear similar results, particularly in the upcoming midterms, if they mishandle the situation.

Go deeper: The newly announced sanctions today will follow already imposed sanctions against Cuban officials and entities allegedly responsible for human rights abuses during the government's crackdown on island-wide protests earlier this month.

1 hour ago - Health

DeSantis to bar Florida schools from mandating masks

Photo: Michael Reaves via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Friday he will issue an executive order "very soon" barring local school districts from requiring students to wear masks when they return to school next month, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The spread of the Delta variant has led to a spike in new infections across the U.S., triggering another round of debate about COVID guidelines in schools.