The Knives Come Out For Cory Booker

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 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.”

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 favourite 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. 

You already see his eye toward the future shining through in his “Meet the Press” comments, when he tries to pulls in the example of how his state benefits from private-equity companies like Bain Capital. 

But it appears as if Booker has infuriated his base, prompting that video clarification. That he plainly refers to himself as an “Obama surrogate” on “Meet the Press” probably did not help. And now he’s even suggesting that the Obama campaign should “look into” Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. 

“I encourage the Obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it,” Booker said in the video.

The way this whole kerfuffle has played out is rather telling of the point Booker was originally trying to make. The day of him becoming a major talking point simply detracts more from the issues, just like he opined about Bain Capital and the GOP super PAC’s planned Jeremiah Wright attack ads. And it proves that it’s hard for a centrist to get ahead in this political climate. 

Watch the video of Booker’s backtrack:

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