WATERLOO -- Presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker met with Waterloo community leaders and college students in his first stop in the city as a presidential candidate Friday.
More than 100 people came to see the Democrat from New Jersey at Hawkeye Community College's Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center at Booker's community roundtable Friday afternoon.
Health care and jobs were Booker's biggest discussion points. During his time with students, Booker also pledged to not take any corporate dollars.
"This presidential campaign will not take corporate PAC (political action committee) dollars, it's not going to take lobbyist dollars, I'm not taking money from pharma execs," Booker said. "We're going to show that we can run this campaign on the power of people, because the power of people is always greater than the people in power."
Booker also talked about the need to bring down drug prices.
"There's something almost immoral about being on the richest country on the planet Earth, and people are putting aside life-saving medication because they can't afford it," Booker said. "We're better than that as a country. We cannot live in a country where people are putting aside their health and ultimately getting sicker and sicker because of this crisis and our failure to act.
"This shouldn't wait for the next president."
Booker jumped into the 2020 race for president of the United States last week, and Waterloo was the second stop on Booker's Iowa Rise Tour after Mason City earlier Friday. He'll also make stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Marshalltown and Des Moines over the weekend.
Prior to the roundtable, Booker toured the Adult Learning Center and had a discussion with students. He also met with Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, Black Hawk County Democratic Chairwoman Vikki Brown and other Waterloo community leaders like former Waterloo City Council member Willie Mae Wright, current council member Jerome Amos, Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz and other Waterloo leaders.
Jacob Madden, a University of Northern Iowa student, was at both the roundtable and the student discussion.
"I think it's really great that we, as Iowans, have the opportunity to have people come to the state and come to us to hear our concerns," Madden said.
Kristen Ahart, another UNI student, was excited to see a candidate engage with students and the Cedar Valley youth.
"It was something I haven't experienced before," Ahart said.
Wright, one of the members of the roundtable, was impressed by Booker and the event.
"He seems like he would be a fantastic president to lead this country," Wright said.
Hart was happy to have a second U.S. senator and possible presidential candidate come to Waterloo in a week. Last Friday Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, visited Waterloo.
"Waterloo is one of the most diverse cities in the entire state of Iowa -- we have real challenges," Hart said. "Only one person is going to win the nomination, but our ability to make connections, even beyond that, is incredible."
Iowa Republicans weren't as impressed with Booker's appearance.
"Iowans can see through his theatrics and still reject his policies -- like his embrace of trillion-dollar government programs, burdensome regulations for Iowa farmers and his plan to eliminate private health insurance," said Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann. "Democrats are desperately trying to sprint ahead of each other in their race to the far left, leaving Iowans in the dust."
Other presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Peter Buttigieg are also visiting Iowa this week.