Dawson ended months of speculation last week when she confirmed to TMZ that she and the junior senator were dating. Appearing Wednesday on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Booker joked that they’d gotten “TMZ-ed.” He added that he expects his private life ― and, specifically, his relationship with Dawson ― to come under further scrutiny now that he’s running for president in 2020.
“You know, she was visiting me in D.C., and then she left to the airport, and she got ambushed at the airport,” Booker said of Dawson’s TMZ chat, which was picked up by media outlets worldwide. “As our relationship grows, it’s difficult, but she is such a deeply soulful person. And has taught me a lot of lessons about love already.”
He continued, “She really has this nurturing spirit that has made me more courageous, not just in the love that I project and want to see in our country, but I think in our own personal relationships to love more fearlessly. I’m very, very blessed to be with somebody that makes me a better person.”
Much of Booker’s chat with DeGeneres was, of course, focused on his hopes for 2020. He said he plans to set himself apart in an increasingly crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls by “appealing to the ideal of reviving civic grace.”
“We have so much common cause in this country ― a lot of common pain,” he said. “We really need leaders that are gonna call us ... back to a sense of common purpose.”
He suggested the country has gone the opposite direction under President Donald Trump, describing the commander-in-chief’s infamously mercurial Twitter presence “indicative of a serious problem.”
“At a time that our country needs redeeming in terms of our connections, we have a president that just seems to continue to want to be doing demeaning,” he said. “There’s a Stanford researcher that’s shown that kindness and decency goes viral ― if you do one kind act witnessed by others, it actually moves multiple degrees of separation. Unfortunately, it’s the same thing with cruelty.”
“To have a president who is commander-in-chief over so many courageous soldiers that are serving for us – men and women, gay, straight, and transgender, tons of soldiers, to see the way he talks about a war hero who is dead now, to me, that is almost repugnant or unacceptable,” he said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.