DERRY, N.H. — It's a message of unity and healing that Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker brought to Derry.
And for those attending, the message was full of hope for what's to come if and when the New Jersey senator wins the White House.
Appearing before an intimate but full gathering at the Coffee Factory at Hood Commons last Friday, Booker said he's running for president to unite America, and help secure the American dream for all its citizens.
Earlier in the day, Booker officially signed up for New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, the final day of the filing period.
Although lagging a bit in the polls, Booker brought an energy to the small coffee shop, drawing much applause from those in attendance when he entered the room.
That included a supportive introduction by campaign community organizer James Stein, telling the crowd he was a recovering opioid addict that has found a true value in all Booker says.
"Recovery is a lifetime sentence," Wisconsin native Stein said. "Cory Booker will take on the toughest fights to get things done."
That includes advocating for recovering addicts and services, Stein added.
"People like me need to be given the opportunity to succeed," he said. "This campaign is the embodiment of that."
Booker then delivered with a big and positive message of hope, and what could be if he was elected the nation's top leader in 2020.
The 50-year-old former mayor of Newark gave a brief history lesson of how his family moved to New Jersey from the south and the discrimination they faced when trying to find housing.
That led, he said, to forming his own life of service and helping others, taking on the fight for human rights and equality and making sure all Americans can find that dream.
His mission includes fighting for lower-priced prescription drugs, helping put money back in the pockets of Americans by reversing President Donald Trump's tax cuts, and taking on the gun violence epidemic.
Although the Democratic field is a large one, Booker said all those hoping to win the nomination should be respectful of each other.
"Don't tear down the other candidates," he said. "The message should be about bringing the party together. Our calling must be to unite America. Don't be like Trump to beat him."
Booker called the state of the current union a moral moment that needs a leader to bring a revival of civil grace and empathy for each other.
"We have a lot of great candidates," Booker told those attending. "Don't make this decision just with your head, but make it with your heart, your spirit."
Booker also credited the nation's diversity as something that defines America's greatness.
"We are better because of our diversity," he said. "My whole life has been about bringing people together."
Susan Ochoa of Derry attended the Booker event and said it's great to live in New Hampshire and have the opportunity to hear candidates up close in small venues like the Coffee Factory.
"I think it's important to hear from all candidates," she said.
Lily Hancock-Braun, 9, and her mother Eleiza Braun traveled to Derry from Mansfield, Connecticut, to hear Booker speak.
Lily proudly sported her Cory Booker sticker as she readied to ask a question of the presidential hopeful, who recognized the young girl in the crowd.
Lily told Booker she wanted to be a journalist when she grows up and worried about the current state in the White House of attacking media.
"There are so many attacks in the press, what is your plan?" she asked.
Booker told her if elected president, he would ensure a transparent White House and would give respect to all media, adding he hoped Lily would follow her dreams of being a journalist.
"And I hope Lily, you will be one of my first interviews when I'm president," Booker said.
Before ending his visit, Booker added that the American dream is in balance, making a reference to the Scriptures and Biblical story of Joseph being tossed in a pit to die.
"But did he die? No, he rose up and led a nation through crisis," Booker said.
Booker challenged voters to dream big for America, stand up and make the choice for how to move forward to unite the nation and create fairness and equality for all.
"I promise you we will not perish in that pit," Booker said. "We will rise."