Even though they’re friends, CNN host Soledad O’Brien didn’t let Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker off the hook on Monday when it came to discussing Booker’s possible political aspirations.
When Booker told her that there’s still a full year before he has to decide whether to run for incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) seat and that Lautenberg needs support, O’Brien deadpanned, “That was a very political answer.”
“You’re killing me with that,” Booker replied. “Let’s go back to Notre Dame.” But O’Brien didn’t let it go.
“It is — you’re saying, ‘We need a senator who people support,'” she shot back. “No, you’re trying to unseat him.”
Though Booker has said he wants to “explore the possibility of running” for the Senate next year, Lautenberg has not expressed any intentions of retiring.
“It’s not like he said he’s gonna give up his job,” O’Brien pointed out with a chuckle.
Booker answered that he wants to give Lautenberg “space” to make a decision.
“This is a lion of our Senate,” Booker said. “This is not the election year, not the year we should talk about hypotheticals. We have the fiscal cliff that we just dealt with. We have Sandy aid, we have the debt ceiling. There’s a lot of issues that we need him in the saddle [for], focused on the job, not focused on the mayor of the city of Newark.”
O’Brien also prodded Booker on his decision not to challenge popular Republican Gov. Chris Christie for that position.
“I knew last time you were on you were gonna run,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t know if you were gonna run for the governor’s spot, which you decided not to do. Why not?” But as Booker began his answer by saying his current job was the most important thing in his life right now, she cut him off.
“I knew you were gonna say that,” she said. “Come on, man!”
Watch O’Brien’s exchange with Booker, aired Monday on CNN, below.