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Cory Booker, a product of the suburbs, is coming to ruin the suburbs, according to Trump

Housewives, beware?

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, greets the crowd during a campaign rally in Detroit. (Paul Sancya/AP)

In a bid to win suburban voters, particularly the women who voted for him in 2016 and aren’t apt to do it now, President Trump keeps claiming that his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden, is going to turn suburbs into crime-ridden communities with low home values.

Lately, Trump has singled out one person as the mastermind of this Biden plot to degrade what Trump seems to envision as mostly white, middle- and upper-middle-class enclaves: Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat and former presidential candidate, who is Black.

The president said Monday on Fox News that Biden is going to have Booker oversee a program that will bring more low-income people of color into suburban neighborhoods.

So you have this beautiful community in the suburbs, including women, right? Women. They want security. I ended where they build a low-income housing project right in the middle of your neighborhood. I ended it. If Biden gets in, he already said it’s going to go at a much higher rate than ever before. And you know who’s going to be in charge of it? Cory Booker. That’s going to be nice. Okay?

Trump also said that Booker was the agent who will change suburbia as we know it on Twitter last month, as he was warning of the coming threat to the lifestyle of “suburban housewives.”

The connection being made here appears to stem from Biden’s stated support of legislation similar to a bill Booker co-sponsored in 2019 that would fund grants to develop a zoning strategy that would allow for mixed-income housing. Booker, a former mayor of Newark, also made affordable housing part of his pitch to voters in the Democratic primary.

Of course, signing a bill that one senator promoted is significantly different than putting that senator “in charge” of implementing a policy, so plenty of people have questioned what else could be behind frequently invoking one of the nation’s most recognizable Black politicians in this attack.

Booker says it’s a racially motivated scare tactic, and he described such tactics as a factor in making Trump so unpopular with so many voters of color. Booker believes that could ultimately cost Trump voters in the suburbs, which are far more diverse than Trump seems to understand.

“I really do think that it’s something as basic as, ‘Let me find a Black person, and I can try to scare people from the suburbs,’ ” Booker said on MSNBC’s “All In” last month. “But it’s very personal to me because of my backstory.”

Booker was raised in suburban New Jersey after his parents integrated a relatively affluent, predominantly White suburb in the hope of providing a better education for their sons. Here’s how Booker described his family’s experience on MSNBC:

In 1969, when I was a baby, my parents tried to move into these amazing New Jersey suburbs. They were turned away from houses because of the color of their skin. And if it wasn’t for activists — many of them White — in that community, they would send White couples out to pose as my parents after my parents were turned away to see if houses were still for sale.

Booker eventually enrolled in some of the best public schools in the state, where he was an honor student and star athlete before heading off to Stanford University. Booker eventually became mayor of Newark, where he made housing such a focus of his tenure that he made headlines for moving into public housing.

Booker said he is not surprised to see Trump adopt a racist housing philosophy, given that the president was previously sued by the federal government for trying to keep Black people out of his own properties.

“Remember, he had a major federal lawsuit against him for that kind of systemic discrimination,” Booker said. “So for him to try to whip up this boogeyman that people like me are scary to try to prey upon bigotry and fear … I’m sorry, this is a very old trope that was used by generations past, and it’s just not going to work in today’s America.”

Trump has consistently pushed back on efforts to make housing more accessible. In July, the Trump administration announced plans to revoke housing regulations that the Obama administration developed to end racial disparities in the suburbs, arguing that diversifying suburbia increases crime and lowers home values. Fair housing activists have criticized Trump’s decision to end the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation, arguing that it will keep many low-income Americans and people of color from the suburban lifestyle they desire.

Since the earliest days of the 2016 campaign, playing to the fears of White Americans about a changing country has been a fundamental campaign strategy of the president. Trump won suburban voters during his previous campaign, but is losing them now — and he’s hoping that will change using proven scare tactics.

After Trump’s comments on Fox, social media users repeatedly remarked on just how nonthreatening Booker is. This was someone whose presidential campaign strategy seemed questionable from the start, because the electorate just wasn’t in the mood for his message of optimism and unity.

But by making the argument that the America that so many suburbanites love could be destroyed if Biden wins, Trump seems to be banking on White voters in America’s suburbs being less than enthusiastic about living next to a Black youth who might become the next Cory Booker.