Commentary: Cory Booker and His Misguided Statements

The Newark mayor’s words on Meet the Press did nothing but harm the Obama campaign.

Posted: 05/25/2012 09:54 AM EDT
Cory Booker and Barack Obama

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, has become well known as a forceful voice of progressive politics. But more recently, he has added something to his résumé: he is now widely known as the man who, while praising President Obama, also condemned Obama’s ad campaign. In the ads, the president’s re-election campaign criticized Mitt Romney's tenure at the private-equity firm Bain Capital, a criticism Booker called "nauseating."

That produced a backlash of the fiercest manner from the Obama lieutenants, who considered the mayor’s comments not just off message, but detrimental to the campaign. Within hours of Booker’s appearance and comments on Meet the Press, he was on the Republican Party’s website, with the banner headline “I Stand With Cory.” Not a soothing image for a so-called bedrock Obama supporter.

Over the next day or two, the mayor was offering a series of public mea culpas, saying that his words were highlighted far beyond their meaning and that the Republicans were seeking to garner a strong political advantage by having one of Obama’s strongest African-American supporters criticizing his chief executive’s campaign strategy.

But it seems Booker has ended his apology tour. On Thursday he lashed out at critics on his Twitter account. "Sorry I make u sick. And sorry I made a mistake. I'm sorry that 15 seconds on MTP erodes my 20 yrs of work in inner cities around our nation," he tweeted. He then wrote: "In the end we are all imperfect. Best we can do is learn from our mistakes, not let them stop u but make u stronger."

There are a number of problems with what he originally said. For one thing, the Newark mayor never took accountability for his own words. He attacks the Republican Party for taking his words and making him the darling of the moment for their party. However, Booker never seemed to own up to the fact that the Republicans would have nothing to brandish had he not offered his criticism so spectacularly on Meet the Press.

The other issue here is that Booker is a politician who raises precious little money within his own community. Much of the mayor’s political contributions have come from a huge mountain of donors from private equity and investment banking companies, many of them in New York.

So perhaps Booker’s comments were not only a deliberate swipe at the president but also a tactic to bolster his own attractiveness to the investment bankers who might ultimately offer their resources to him in future campaigns. That’s fine for an ambitious politician. But for a surrogate for the Obama campaign, the mayor’s statements are not helpful to the president or his campaign.

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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(Photo: Courtesy New York Daily News)


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