Biden showed 'a lack of understanding': Sen. Cory Booker

On "This Week," Martha Raddatz sits down with Sen. Cory Booker to talk about the latest in the race, former Vice President Joe Biden and Iran.
7:27 | 06/23/19

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Transcript for Biden showed 'a lack of understanding': Sen. Cory Booker
I'm joined now by New Jersey senator Cory booker live from Columbia, South Carolina. Good morning, but before we turn to politics, you are running to be the next commander in chief. Put aside for a moment your thoughts about how this Iran crisis began. Did the president make the right call by stopping the retaliatory strike Thursday night? I don't think you can pull this out of the context of him, from the very beginning of his presidency, taking a course of escalation and provocation with Iran. We pulled out of an anti-nuclear deal that gave us complete transparency into their nuclear program. We literally isolated ourselves from our allies and set us out on a very fragile limb towards conflict where we could break at any time and find ourselves perilously closely and closer to war. But where we are today, senator, so answer the question about whether he made the right call. I think there's a bipartisan group of senators that spoke clearly saying this president cannot take military action against Iran without coming to congress. The 2001 authorization for military force does not cover a military strike against Iran. The constitution speaks very clearly on this, that he needs to come to congress before he engages in military action that, again, could have us tumbling towards chaos and war in that region. So what would you have done? You're on the foreign relations committee. You know how complicated this is with Iran. You are running for president. Iran shoots down one of our drones. What do you do? Well, first and foremost, again, the critical crisis we have is not just a drone being shot down but now Iran has moved back to where it was before which could be months from getting a nuclear weapon, which puts us again in that region on the brink of chaos. Again, this is a president that does not have a strategy, and unfortunately, has made us weaker. We are the strongest nation on the planet Earth but our strength is magnified and multiplied when we stand in coalition with our allies, with other western democracies and we are not there right now. Even when there are strikes on tankers, we see our allies very skeptical to even believe us right now. We are in a weaker position. We are in a box, in a corner, with an Iranian regime now racing back towards a nuclear weapon and this situation is getting more tense, not less. This has been folly. There is no strategy here. We have a president that seems to be doing this like a reality TV show and trying to build more drama and trying to make foreign policy by tweet. We have to, as a nation, work in coordination with our allies to denuclearize Iran and to bring stability and peace back to that region. Senator booker -- Iran is a serious threat. If you were elected president you would inherit what's going on right now, so what would you do that's different if Iran is on a path to get the nuclear weapon? I would re-join with our allies. I would work to renegotiate and get us back into a place where we are standing together with our allies and have like we had before which was a 10 to 20-year runway and transparency and vision into their enrichment processes to make sure that they're abiding by an anti-nuclear deal. This entire episode is something that Donald Trump solely has pushed us to and now we are, as I said, in a terrible corner with a regime that has already shown its belligerence. This regime has shown that it is a bad actor in that region but now they're closer to a nuclear weapon which could trigger proliferation around the region. It could trigger a military conflict and have us tumbling back into a Middle East war that will cost American lives and trillions of American dollars. Senator booker, I want to turn back to politics and to vice president Biden's comments. He said he worked along segregationists in congress in order to get things done. You called the comments deeply disappointing, but the two of you spoke privately on Wednesday evening. What was your takeaway from that conversation? I've said my peace. I have a lot of respect for Joe Biden and gratitude towards him and that's even more of a responsibility that I have to be candid with him, speak truth to power. He is a presidential nominee and to say something -- and again, it's not about working across the aisle. If anything I've made that a hallmark of my time in the senate to get big things done and legislation passed. This is about him evoking a terrible power dynamic that he showed a lack of understanding or insensitivity to. By invoking this idea that he was called son by white segregationists, who, yeah, they see in him their son. He said it was taken out of context last night. I didn't understand that. I listened to the full totality of what he was talking about, and frankly, I heard from many, many African-Americans who found the comments hurtful. Look, we make mistakes. We sometimes tread upon issues that maybe we aren't knowledgeable of. I don't think the vice president should need this lesson but this was a time for him to be healing and to be helpful, especially at a time that he is looking to bring this party together and lead us in what is the most important election of our lifetime. I was disappointed. I've said my peace. We had a very constructive conversation. Again, I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for the vice president. That's why again, I felt it really important, especially with our friends, not to just sweep things under the rug but to be candid and straight forward with each other. I want to move to the 2020 debates. You're in South Carolina. You took part in the very famous fish fry last night, congressman Jim Clyburn's fish fry. Clyburn said he was surprised you and kamala Harris were not getting more support in his state but said he thinks you are, quote, suffering from the shadows, coming out from the shadows of Barack Obama. Is that a fair comment? Look, we have 230 days before there's voting in Iowa. This is a very, very long time. So I'm very confident in the campaign that we're running here and if you invoke president Obama, he was polling well behind secretary Clinton -- excuse me, at that time senator Clinton at this point in the polls. I'm looking forward to this campaign, this debate on Wednesday night to put myself, my ideas, my heart and my passion before the American people. I'm excited about the road ahead -- How do you break out, senator? How do you break out from that crowd? You're up against Elizabeth Warren that night who's doing better in the polls. Again, polling this far out, as you know, has very little indication about who ultimately will be the nominee. There's ten people on that stage and we have an incredible field of candidates and I think this would be a good opportunity for the American people to see us all and to see our spirit, to see our ideas, and frankly, to understand our vision for the country. I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I'm grateful that the DNC is doing this. Okay, thanks very much, senator booker. Good luck this week.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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