Newark Mayor Cory Booker introduces Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama January 9, 2008 in Jersey City, New Jersey
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
UPDATE: Cory Booker's damage control tour following his comments that President Obama's attack ads were "nauseating" continues. But conservatives show no sign of slowing their praise for the Newark mayor's temporary departure from his party line.
Responding to a petition drive from the Republican National Committee called "I stand with Cory," Booker told MSNBC Monday evening: "As far as where my heart is right now I am very upset that I am being used by the GOP this way." He then went online to try a little Twitter Jiu Jitsu, tweeting: "Let me be clear, #IStandWithObama."
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Sarah Palin joined the ranks of Republicans who have weighed in on Booker's comments. On Fox News Monday, the former vice presidential candidate told Sean Hannity it was "a shame to see Cory kind of back down from what his answer was," as Politico reports.
Elsewhere at Slate, John Dickerson examines Booker-gate, arguing that his real mistake was to suggest that Bain criticism isn't fair game for the Obama campaign.
Monday, May 21: President Obama's reelection team remained in damage control Monday afternoon, one day after one of the president's prominent campaign surrogates offered a surprise critique of the president's recent line of attack against Mitt Romney.
The comments that started the defensive scramble came Sunday from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who didn't mince words when speaking about Obama's latest attack ad that blasts his GOP rival for his time in private equity. "If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support business, to grow business," Booker said.
The mayor didn't stop there. "This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," Booker said on Meet the Press. "It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop criticizing Bain Capital. Stop criticizing Jeremiah Wright."
For Team Obama, there are several problems with Booker's comments: They appear to equate Obama's Bain criticism with conservative attempts to link the president to controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright; they undercut the Obama campaign's argument that Romney's time at Bain is fair game; and, perhaps most damaging, they provide easy fodder for Republicans who paint Obama as a president sought on undermining the free market.
David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, hit the cable new circuit on Monday to calm the storm. "In this particular instance he was just wrong," Axelrod told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in regards to Booker's PE defense. "There are specific instances here that speak to an economic theory that isn’t the right economic theory for the country."
Booker also wasted little time trying to walk back his comments, posting a Youtube video Sunday evening in which he begins by reiterating his support for Obama before speaking about his general frustrations with "negative campaigning."
Of course, that had little effect on conservatives, who have seized on Booker's comments and Democrats' attempts at damage control as the latest evidence of the president's anti-free market thinking. "Obama clamping down on @corybooker shows that democrats are no longer allowed to defend free market," tweeted Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.
Monday, May 14: President Obama's re-election team is out with a new television ad Monday targeting Mitt Romney as a greedy, job-killing corporate raider for his time at Bain Capital.
The campaign spot, which weighs in at an unusually long two minutes, will air in five key swing states: Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Colorado, according to the Associated Press. In it, former steel workers call Romney's reliance on his business record at Bain Capital "offensive," with one saying, "We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer."
The ad, "Romney Economics: Bankruptcy and Bailouts at GST Steel," is shot documentary-style, featuring interviews with former employees of a now-shuttered Kansas City, Mo., steel mill. The workers describe GST Steel before a Bain takeover as an ideal all-American manufacturing business and point to the private equity firm's investment in the company as the beginning of its end.
Here's a sampling of the pull quotes from steel workers featured in the longer version of the ad that the campaign posted online:
"It was like going to war every single day."
"It was like working in the sweatshops of the '30s."
"What Bain Capital did was not capitalism."
"It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us."
You can watch the online version below: