New Jersey Senator Cory Booker says he likely missed out on a fundraising boost by being excluded from last night’s debate among the Democratic presidential candidates.

“It’s exposure that is incredibly valuable,” Booker said in Des Moines. “It has always led for us to a spike in contributions…The first hour after the last debate beat any fundraising day that we had in the entire campaign.”

Booker spoke to reporters as the debate was nearing its conclusion, touting metrics like the number of precinct captains he’s recruited for Caucus Night as a different measure of his campaign’s progress.

“Three or four months ago if you’d told me I was going to miss a debate, we would have thought it would have been a mortal blow,” Booker said,”but the reason why it’s not is because this last month or two – since the last debate — has been an avalanche of on-line supporters, people saying we want him on the stage and now we realize we have to fight for him to be on that stage.”

As his competitors traded verbal jabs in front of a national television audience, Booker was in the basement of his campaign’s Des Moines office, calling likely Iowa Caucus-goers along with about 30 other campaign volunteers.

“I’m here in Iowa doing what you need to do to win,” Booker said. “…We’ve already seen an uptick in the polls. I think my staff showed me four polls where we hit four percent since they closed the debate criteria for this one. We’ll see which ones are qualifying polls and I’m just very confident I’ll be there in January.”

The next Democratic presidential candidate debate will be held in Des Moines on January 14.

“This debate is over now?” Booker asked the reporters in Des Moines who’d been asking him questions for 15 minutes.

“They’re talking about the wine cave right now,” Iowa Starting Line founder Pat Rynard said, a reference to Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg debating the location of one of Buttigieg’s fundraisers.

“Are the really talking about the wine cave?” Booker replied.

Another reporter asked: “Do you have any experience with a wine cave?”

“I know this actually loses me votes probably every time I say it, but I’ve never actually drank in my life,” Booker said, with a laugh. “So if I was going to have a cave in my house, I’d put something better than wine (in it). I might make it a sci-fi tribute, with a great TV for me to watch episodes of Star Trek.”

Today, Booker is embarking on a bus tour with stops in Adel, Fort Dodge and Sioux City. On Saturday, he’ll be in Sioux Center and Spencer before traveling to Mason City, where he’ll appear at the Historic Park Inn Hotel Ballroom at 7:30 PM.