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Cory Booker: The man you can't miss in Charlotte

The early returns are in, and the winner as the Democratic convention's most ubiquitous and energetic politician so far is Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker. Seemingly everywhere you look, Booker is addressing a state delegation, speaking at a rally, or greeting his fans.

On Tuesday night as a summer storm boomed in Charlotte, Booker won thunderous applause as he addressed the convention on the platform.

"When your country is in a costly war with our soldiers sacrificing abroad, and our nation is facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare, it's patriotism," he said, arguing the need for tax increases.

John Brecher / NBC News

Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, addresses the Florida delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday morning.

But the mayor’s appearance on the dais was just his highest-profile one in a series of stops this convention week. On Tuesday morning, Booker brought the Florida delegation to its feet with a rousing speech.

“We can’t make the mistake that they (the Republicans) make of thinking this country is hungry for bash and slash and trash,” he said. “This country is hungry for hope.”

He got a huge laugh with his joke about New Jersey being superior to Virginia – despite the slogan, “Virginia is for lovers.” He said, “In New Jersey we invented the drive-in movie theater,” adding that his mother told him, “You were conceived in a double feature. Sidney Poitier, ‘In the Heat of the Night’ – and ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’”

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Tuesday afternoon, Booker was the leadoff speaker at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund rally at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte. “He ran into a burning building to save a woman’s life,” actress and emcee Aisha Tyler said as she introduced Booker – a reference to his actions to save a neighbor from a fire earlier this year.

Booker told the crowd he’d made a mistake last week thinking he could do his usual late-night routine of simultaneously watching television and eating ice cream. While watching the Republican convention, he said he found that “Ben & Jerry does not mix with Mitt and Ryan ... that ice cream was curdling before I even got it to my mouth.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker energetically outlines the new National Democratic Party platform.

He bashed New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie – although not identifying him by name – for proposing a 2010 budget that cut funding for Planned Parenthood, resulting in the reduction of clinic hours.

“They may tell us they love women, but when they do things like that, they are setting all of us back,” he said. When a woman goes to a Planned Parenthood clinic, Booker said, “This is an opportunity for them to get contraception that could prevent the abortion that you are so much against.”

On Monday, Booker was up early to address the Iowa delegation where he got a wildly enthusiastic reception during his 25-minute speech and told that his grandmother was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

"My grandma back in 1918 was born in Des Moines, Iowa ... My grandmother grew up there, my grandmother's siblings went to college there. My family is still spread out all through Iowa ... I'm proud, proud of those roots," he said.

Booker told the delegates that great-grandparents moved from Alabama to Buxton, Iowa which in the early 1900s was a big coal mining town with a large African-American population. Booker’s mention of Buxton got a big round of applause. "Some people know what I'm talking about!" he said.

John Brecher / NBC News

Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, addresses the Florida delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday morning.

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It’s not clear where Booker’s relentless energy will lead the mayor electorally. Two possible opportunities await back in his home state: to run for senator if Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., decides to retire in 2014, or to run for governor next year against Christie.

“I think even he may not know yet,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “He's ambitious, but ambition in New Jersey usually runs up against various power brokers. I don't think he'd want to take on Lautenberg in a primary, so the Senate depends on what the current senator decides to do. He has, of course, insisted he will be running again.”

Redlawsk added, “Governor is also tricky, given that Christie's ratings have held up, and that right now you'd have to say he has the inside track for a second term. A loss to Christie would certainly be painful. The Senate seat is far more likely to stay in Democratic hands than Christie is to lose at this point. Thus, if Booker could somehow clear the decks for a Senate run, and Lautenberg retired, that would give him the highest probability of success.”

No matter how high he is able to climb in New Jersey politics, Booker is tirelessly building a national following here in Charlotte – and on Thursday he'll be addressing the New Hampshire delegation's breakfast.