Speed Reads

2020 Democratic debates

Cory Booker will debut his 1st TV ad during the Democratic debate. It takes a clever shot at the billionaires in the race.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will actually appear at Thursday's Democratic debate after all — sort of.

Booker will run his 2020 presidential campaign's first television ad during the sixth Democratic debate, even though he didn't qualify for the stage, The Hill reports. In the ad posted on YouTube, Booker says he "won't be on tonight's debate stage, but that's okay, because I'm gonna win this election anyway."

He also jokes about whether his campaign "can afford" the ad, noting viewers will only see it once because he's "not a billionaire," contrasting himself with two of his wealthiest competitors. Both former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and liberal activist Tom Steyer are billionaires, and have filled the airwaves with a crush of ads for their presidential campaigns. Steyer will be on the debate stage.

In an interview with CNN Thursday, Booker said it's "unfortunate" that he won't be at the debate but that he's "confident" he'll make it to the next one in January. Booker has been calling on the Democratic National Committee to loosen the debate qualifications.

In the hours before the debate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). called on her supporters via email to contribute to Booker's campaign. "The fact that he won't be on the December debate stage tonight is a loss for our party," she wrote.

The ad, The Hill reports, will be running in 22 markets, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The seventh Democratic debate — the one Booker hopes to attend in the flesh — is set for Jan. 14. Brendan Morrow