Newark Mayor Cory Booker got a painful lesson in Obama Surrogacy 101 yesterday when he went on “Meet the Press” and criticized the Obama campaign’s commercials attacking Republic challenger Mitt Romney for killing jobs through Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded. Hours later—and undoubtedly after some heated conversations with the Obama campaign—Booker posted a contrite video on YouTube explaining what he had meant to say.
Prominent Democrats like Booker and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who both happen to be personal friends of the president, are being used as surrogates on the morning talk shows, defending the president’s record and attacking the record of the other guy. But the surrogacy isn’t quite as effective when one of the surrogates diverts from the script and instead criticizes the president for an ad campaign that is supposed to be bringing negative attention to Romney.
“It’s nauseating to the American public,” Booker said, addressing both campaigns. “Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.”
“As far as that stuff, I have to just say from a very personal level I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity…To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America,” Booker continued. “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 [and] to grow businesses. And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”
Contained in Booker’s quote is the real crux of the matter for him—if he’s going to go even further in New Jersey politics, such as to the governorship or possibly a U.S. Senate seat, he’s going to need significant support from Wall Street and the many financiers who live in fancy bedroom communities throughout northeastern New Jersey. Booker made a calculation that in this particular case their interests were more important than Obama’s.
But hours later, there was the mayor on YouTube, explaining that his support for Obama remains as strong as ever. Politics can be a tricky sport.