At a supporter's house in Manchester, N. H. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker stands around the kitchen island talking about Star Trek and his father. With a cup of coffee in his hand, Booker is surrounded by five of what he calls his "core group". They are staying here in Pat Kalik's home, a super volunteer who has offered her house as a home base, while the Senator makes his first visit to the granite state since announcing his entry into the 2020 presidential race. He settles at a small table to the side of the kitchen with WGBH Morning Edition's Joe Mathieu to discuss what it's like running against fellow senators like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and what New Hampshire voters are telling him are their biggest concerns.

Sen. Cory Booker: I mean, there are a lot of concerns about the way this president has been changing our political culture. This sort of divide and conquer, pitting people against each other, using deeply racist language when he talks about the quote-unquote "other." I think a lot of people are just concerned about the fabric of our country being torn.

Joe Mathieu: I ask you that, Senator, because I remember from four years ago being here and every presidential candidate we talked to was amazed at how much they heard about the opioid crisis; that many were introduced to it here. They thought they'd be talking about a lot of different issues, but that was the one that kept coming up. Do you hear about that and are there other issues that keep coming up where you say, "You know what, that's the fourth or the fifth conversation I've had where that person brought this issue to me?"

Booker: The reality is we have across this country in red states and blue states across this country, we're all struggling with so many of the same issues. Opioid addiction, mental health, parents who are struggling to stay above the poverty line because of the expenses of raising kids, whether it's child care or medical costs all of these things are really something they're pressing on the hearts of Americans...just the affordability of this country for middle class, working class, low income Americans. There's a theme of that, of the isolation people are feeling, or feeling like they're left out, and feeling like they can't afford America anymore. We need to address these issues head on. And that's one of the reasons I'm running for president.

Mathieu: So it sounds like if I distill that, the issue that you keep hearing coming up is just "How do you get by? How are we getting by right now?"

Booker: We're really at a crisis point in my opinion where you have large percentages of our population who just aren't feeling like this country's working for each other. Our nation's children, one out of every five, born in poverty. [We are] almost closing in on 50 percent of Americans can't afford a 400 dollar hit to their budget. They're two flat tires away from missing a rent payment or a mortgage payment. This is not the kind of America we all dream of, the land of prosperity, the land that every parent has hope for their child that they're going to do better than they are. And the data proves it out. Ninety percent of baby boomers did better than their parents. For millennials it's down to 50 percent. It's almost like a diminishing of who we are as a country, and what we stand for. And we can either tear each other apart, or come together to solve these problems that are really ailing our nation as a whole.

Mathieu: Well, President Trump, if he were at the breakfast table with us here, would probably say: "Hey look, senator: record low unemployment for certain groups of Americans, stock markets on a tear, the economy is growing, I've reinvigorated the military, What the heck else do you want?"

Booker: Well, working Americans would tell you that the dignity of work is being stripped from them. Working Americans would tell you they're working harder than their parents and falling further behind. Working Americans will tell you that while their salaries may moderately have gone up, what's gone up more is the cost of prescription drugs, cost of child care, the cost of college. The biggest thing that's ailing us is that we see each other as the enemies as opposed to realizing that Republicans and Democrats and independents we share this common pain. We've got to get leaders that are not going to pit us against each other but call us to a greater higher purpose and a greater common purpose that I still believe when I talked to diners and in people's homes. When I work in the campaign like this, I hear people yearning for that sense of common purpose that beat back Jim Crow or beat back the Nazis in Europe or got us to the moon. That wasn't rugged individualism, that was collective sacrifice and common purpose. We've got to get back to that again.

Mathieu: From what I read, you're not the only candidate in the state this weekend and certainly won't be [the only one] in this race. You're entering a crowded field, and some of the candidates are your Senate colleagues, including our own Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. You have relationships with your fellow senators and your fellow Democrats, what's it like running against them now and why should you deserve the job more than them?

Booker: Well, you know, a lot of these aren't just my colleagues, they're my friends. In fact, we've all been in the trenches so long now for these last two years, that it's almost like they're family and sometimes there's sibling rivalry — but at the end of the day, we're family. You're talking to a guy who's had had to build a career working with people on the other side of the aisle. When I was mayor of the largest city in an economic crisis, largest city in New Jersey in economic crisis, my governor was Republican Chris Christie. I could write a dissertation on our disagreements but we found common ground. We worked together and we did things again that people thought folks could not do. And then even when I went to Washington I took on the problems that weren't necessarily [what] people [were] talking about it were challenges like the cancer in our soul of our country which is our criminal justice system.

Mathieu: And so you move on the campaign trail. Talk to us about what it's been like in New Hampshire this weekend. You're meeting a lot of new people, and I suspect it's the drinking from a firehose routine.

Booker: No. You know what, it's been inspiring. People in New Hampshire take this so seriously and the enthusiasm [I see], I mean people who on a holiday weekend are [in] standing-room only crowds packed into the venues we've had, who are asking substantive questions. Taking time to tell me their stories. This is motivating, informative. This has been a tremendous experience in this state and I'm grateful that people understand that they have a chance at a moral crossroads in this country to shape the destiny of America.

Mathieu: Well senator, I'm sure you've heard the line already when you come to New Hampshire people expect to not only meet you but it's a question of how many times they meet you over the campaign cycle. So I hope this isn't the last time that we meet and thank you for being with us on WGBH in Boston.

Booker: It's great thank you. Public radio is serving such a purpose right now in America. So you are not the enemy of the people. Please continue in doing what you're doing.

Mathieu: It's nice to hear government officials say that. Thank you.