Obama Campaign Goes After Romney's 'Vampire' Capitalism; Cory Booker Cries Foul
There's a an earnestness to Newark Mayor Cory Booker that is, by turns, pleasing and annoying. When he pitches in to help shovel out a street deluged by a snow storm, or rushes into a burning building to save its occupants -- that's mighty pleasing. But when he turns his superpowers to the defense of leveraged buyout firms, he's kind of annoying. This weekend, on NBC's Meet the Press, Booker gave "private equity" its Britney Spears moment, when he described as "nauseating" an Obama campaign video that attacked apparent Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his record as CEO at Bain Capital.
To be fair to Booker, one must also note that he also applied the term "nauseating" to a video proposed to a Romney-allied superPAC that would have dredged up Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama's former pastor, as a race-card bogeyman But, in a way, that only made matters worse, because Booker essentially equated a race-baiting script with one that took on a presidential candidate for the bankrupting of a steel company that put regular people out of work while enriching the candidate (Romney) and his company's investors at Bain Capital. Booker made those remarks after calling himself a "surrogate" for the Obama campaign.
After MTP host David Gregory played a clip from the Obama campaign's anti-Romney video, he asked participants in the show's roundtable to respond. "[T]his kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," Booker said. "It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity, stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on. It's a distraction from the real issues. It's either going to be a small campaign about this crap or it's going to be a big campaign, in my opinion, about the issues that the American public cares about."
He also defended Bain, saying, "they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses." (Transcript below.)
It's not far-fetched to speculate that the Obama campaign, which is quite invested in painting Romney as a feed-the-rich guy, based on his record at Bain, was none too pleased with its Boy-Scoutish surrogate. For on the very same day, Booker issued a video [included at the bottom of this post] of his own, attempting to explain his comments, which he didn't exactly walk back. Instead, he reiterated his support for President Obama, and said he was simply seeking to elevate the political discourse to issues that "really matter." As for Romney, Booker said in his video that because the GOP candidate has made his record as a businessman "the centerpiece of his campaign, " it was "reasonable" for the Obama campaign "to examine that record, and to discuss it." He added: "I have no problem with that."
In the meantime, the Obama campaign is about to convene a press conference to unveil its "examination" of Romney's record at Bain Capital.
Partial transcript from Booker's appearance on yesterday's edition of Meet the Press:
This video was issued by Booker yesterday evening, after his Meet the Press appearance: