The Campaign Spot

Now Axelrod Is Fuming, ‘Booker!’

In the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Suddenly David Axelrod Is Fuming a Christie-Esque ‘Booker!’

Newark Mayor Cory Booker… not only does he save people from burning buildings, not only does he shovel sidewalks, not only does he do hilarious videos with Chris Christie… he even calls them as he sees them, even if it really, really complicates life for the president of his party:

Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, a prominent Democrat enlisted as a surrogate for President Obama’s campaign, sharply criticized it on Sunday for attacking Mitt Romney’s work at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Mr. Booker, speaking on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” made his comments in response to a television advertisement the president’s campaign unveiled last week. It portrays Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as someone who eliminated jobs for the sake of profits during his years running Bain Capital.

“I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” Mr. Booker said. “To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

“The last point I’ll make is this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” Mr. Booker continued. “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.”

Did you see what he just did there? He just put attacks on Romney’s years at Bain Capital up there with what the MSM deems the gold standard of unfair attacks, Jeremiah Wright. (Never-mind that a presidential candidate’s mentor being coo coo for cocoa puffs might be relevant to some voters. For that matter, Romney’s management style and judgment at Bain probably ought to be worth a look. But to blame him for every job lost from an investment that failed without crediting him for every job created from an investment that worked is an inane standard, and the vast majority of voters know this.)

And the angry lefties know that Booker just blew up one of their main attacks on Romney for the rest of the year. Whenever anyone in Obama-world mentions Bain between now and November, expect to hear a lot of, “Oh, this is a silly smear and everyone knows it, even Cory Booker wants the Obama campaign to drop these tired, baseless attacks…”

Brett LoGiurato tours the Left’s outrage and betrayal to Booker Sunday:

Cory Booker seemed to shock the left this morning on “Meet the Press.” Calling himself an “Obama surrogate,” he said this when asked about the Obama campaign’s attack ads this week on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital:

“I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America.

“Especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain CapitalIf you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

Heads started to roll. Keith Olbermann tweeted that Booker “may have done progressive things, but he believes in nothing but Cory Booker.“ The left-heavy Think Progress went with an unflattering “Booker attacks Obama” headline for the “popular, progressive mayor” from Newark. 

Truth is, though, that Booker has always been thought of as something of a “moderate” or “centrist” Democrat, despite being perhaps their favorite rising star. (He’s going to either run to be New Jersey’s governor in 2013 or for one of its Senate seats in 2014.)

Here’s Cory Booker talking about the labels of Republican and Democrat, and how he wants neither to fully apply to him. 

Over at Salon, Steve Kornacki writes why this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise

Financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.

That’s because Cory Booker was originally elected to the Newark mayor’s office on the strength of the private-equity types. In 2002, when he narrowly lost his first bid, nearly a quarter of donations to his campaign came from Wall Street. Pretty much all of it, Kornacki writes, was from outside Newark. 

Dylan Byers of Politico notices the Obama campaign is distributing an edited version of Booker’s subsequent remarks:

In an almost four-minute follow up video for his social media followers, Booker explained that Romney’s business record was fair game, and that he was simply frustrated by negative campaigning.

The Obama campaign, however, sent out a different video on Sunday night. On Twitter, Obama campaign press secretary Ben La Bolt tweeted out a 35-second version of the video, which was very likely cut by the Obama campaign (because, when I clicked on La Bolt’s link, it had just 8 views).

What gets lost in the edit is the nuance of Booker’s argument. Watching the 35-second video, you would believe that Booker was flip-flopping from his comments on Meet The Press and going on an all-out assault on Romney. In the four-minute video, Booker stands by his comments — including “nauseating” — and explains that while he does think Romney’s record is fair game, he remains “frustrated” by the Obama campaign’s negative attacks.

In other words, the 35-second video is a reverse of position. The four-minute video is an extenstion of the original argument.

Asked for his response to the ad, RNC spokesman Tim Miller, who has been attacking the ad on Twitter, emailed:

It’s clear this video was orchestrated by the Obama campaign, and as long as he is President any defense of the free market/private sector by members of his party must be silenced and apologized for.

The Obama camp’s Michael-Bay-style editing with a blender set for “puree” screams confidence, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: I’m told that this morning, Joe Scarborough joked that Booker’s follow-up message “clarifying” his remarks “looked like a hostage video.”

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