Newark mayor Cory Booker isn’t backing down from his insistence that the drug dealer T-Bone, whom he told several audiences in emotional stump speeches prior to 2008 had threatened his life before befriending him, is real. Not only that, Booker told NJTV’s Michael Aron, but T-Bone was merely one of “literally hundreds” of drug dealers to whom he has lent a hand while living in Newark. Some of them, he says, were even temporary roomates:
When I was mayor, when I first started, we used to hold meetings for guys who were involved in the narcotics trade in the house that I was living in. Literally helping guys, sometimes putting them up with me, because there’s that many guys that are caught up in this drug trade…
This is all to say, according to Booker, that he doesn’t need to invent a drug-pushing pal. The mayor has also, apparently, scoured New Jersey’s databases for evidence of T-Bone. Or, more generally, people called T-Bone. “There’s evidence of people with the name T-Bone, five people with the name T-Bone right now in our database from 2008 until now,” Booker said. The mayor didn’t say whether any of those T-Bones are his old friend; Aron didn’t ask.
My search of the New Jersey Department of Corrections database yielded three men who go by the alias T-Bone. Two were incarcerated for drug-related offenses; all were serving their first prison sentences and began serving them after 2009. Booker has claimed not to have seen T-Bone since 1998, when, supposedly, the drug dealer dissolved into tears because there were warrants out for his arrest.
You can watch Aron’s video with Booker, which aired on Saturday, here. The portion about T-Bone begins around the 9:15 mark. National Review Online cast doubt on T-Bone’s existence in a report last month. Rutgers University history professor Clement Price, a friend and mentor to Booker, told me that Booker admitted to him in 2008 that T-Bone was an “invention” and subsequently dropped references to the drug dealer from his speeches. (Booker says Price’s memory is faulty.) The Newark Star-Ledger searched for T-Bone in 2007 but came up dry. An Esquire piece published the following year quotes Booker saying T-Bone is “1,000 percent real” but also an “archetype.”