Cory Booker 'very uncomfortable' with Obama's attack on Romney

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is a campaign surrogate for Barack Obama and a rising Democratic star. But he finds himself ‘very uncomfortable’ with Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record.

Julio Cortez/AP
Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker talks during a news conference outside of the Prudential Center in Newark last month.

Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party, portrayed as heroic recently for rescuing a woman from a burning building in his neighborhood. And he's a big fan of President Obama, who he’s done some campaigning for.

But he had tough words for the Obama reelection campaign Sunday when he pronounced himself “very uncomfortable” with its recent attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record at Bain Capital.

"I have to just say from a very personal level, I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity," Mayor Booker said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "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 invest 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."

Quick as a flash, the Republican National Committee had posted the video on its website with the headline: “They Said It! Mayor Cory Booker Hits Obama Campaign For Attacks On Private Sector.”

Monitor political pundit Peter Grier reported on the Obama attack ads this past week:

On Monday, the Obama campaign released an ad accusing Mr. Romney’s former firm Bain Capital of sucking cash out of a Missouri company named GST Steel, driving it into bankruptcy. Tuesday, a pro-Obama super political-action committee, Priorities USA Action, released an ad that focuses on Bain’s ownership of GST Steel, which closed in 2001, throwing more than 700 people out of work.

“He promised us the same things he’s promising the United States. And he’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He’ll take it all,” says a former GST worker named Pat Wells in the Priorities USA spot.

On Romney’s record at Bain, the Obama ad campaign and Vice President Joe Biden have been double-teaming.

"They made $12 million [on GST], but taxpayers and other healthy companies paid for the loss of all those jobs," Biden said while campaigning in Ohio Thursday. "It costs every company in the country when you raid a company loaded with debt, walk out with money.”

Traditionally, the vice president goes on the attack in a reelection campaign.

But Booker, who might have been expected to voice a similar message, apparently has had it with the level of political discourse in this year’s presidential race – including the rhetoric from both campaigns.

“This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” Booker said Sunday. “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough.”

“Stop attacking private equity,” he said. “Stop attacking [Obama’s former minister] 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.”

By Sunday afternoon, Booker had taken to Twitter to clarify his remarks on “Meet the Press.”

First, “I'll always prioritize my nation over a political party. & right now crass divisive partisan politics is not serving the citizens of my city”

Then this: “So I'll clarify my comments on MTP. Yes, Obama must be re-elected. But we as a Nation owe it to him & ourselves 2 reject politics as usual”

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