Sunday shows: Cory Booker (D) stands with Chris Christie while Steve Lonegan (R) torches him
On Sunday morning, "Meet the Press" featured a one-on-one talk with Cory Booker about race in America.
Booker's visit was pegged to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, and guests across the Sunday shows were mostly older officials who had witnessed the March, and could speak to the changes since then.
Rep. John Lewis appeared on four shows, recounting how Martin Luther King, Jr. asked that he tone down his speech that day, from a first-draft that included some stinging criticism of President John F. Kennedy for acting too slowly on civil rights.
Former secretary of state Colin Powell appeared on "Face the Nation," and said he'd like to see more from the president on the question of race in America.
"I'd like to see him be more passionate about race questions," Powell said, adding, "We're not there yet. And so we've got to keep working on it. And for the president to speak out on it is appropriate. I think all leaders, black and white, should speak out on this issue."
All the guests seemed to agree that the nation had made great strides in the last half-century, but that King, were he alive, would still be preaching for more progress, particularly on issues like poverty and education.
Booker, a fresh-faced 44-year-old, was conspicuous in his youthfulness on Sunday morning.
He hadn't been born when the March took place, but he recalled the stories of his parents, who rose from difficult circumstances to become two of the first black executives at IBM.
It was a preview of what Booker, who is currently coasting toward a special election for the U.S. Senate, could mean to Democrats if he succeeds in becoming the party's lone black member in the upper chamber.
Booker brings a credible young voice to a party that prides itself on its support within minority communities, and party leaders like Sen. Chuck Schumer have already cheered his presumptive arrival.
But Booker has also shown a willingness to disagree with the party, when it suits his own political interests.
When he appeared on "Meet the Press" last fall, he caused an intra-party uproar by criticizing President Obama's campaign attacks on Mitt Romney's career in private equity.
More recently, in the course of his Senate campaign, Booker hasn't exactly used his celebrity status to elevate the party's gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey, the largely unknown Barbara Buono.
He's been more inclined to tout his work with New Jersey's popular governor Chris Christie, who appears to be coasting to re-election, and is a leading candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016.
"If we just sat back in our relative partisan positions, we wouldn't have gotten anything together," said Booker. "The fact that we've come together right now has created the largest economic development period in Newark in over a generation."
Booker's is clearly the softer side of that partnership. While Christie proudly circulates videos of his political fights on Youtube, Booker spoke on Sunday morning about the need for a "conspiracy of love" to lift people out of poverty.
Oddly, Booker's Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, seemed less inclined to cozy up to Christie in a morning appearance on MSNBC this weekend.
"I'm tired of single mothers being used as the poster child for the welfare state," he said, while arguing for less federal welfare benefits, in an interview on "Up with Steve Kornacki."
Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota who ran against Christie from the hard right in the 2009 Republican primary, also said he is "totally pro-life," and that the new federal health care law is a "trainwreck," which he would vote to de-fund.
Lonegan was endorsed by Christie last week, but he spent much of the interview stating where he disagreed with Christie, saying the federal Hurricane Sandy aid bill was "too much money," and said he was "much more of a libertarian conservative" than Christie.
Asked about Christie's dispute on foreign policy with Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator who currently leads that libertarian faction, Lonegan said, "I'm more on the side of Rand Paul."
Booker leads 54 to 38 percent in the most recent public polls.