Newark Mayor and Obama campaign surrogate Cory Booker went on the Rachel Maddow Show tonight. It was his first interview since the appearance on Meet The Press this weekend where he caused an uproar by saying he found negative campaigning on “both sides” to be “nauseating,” including the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s career with Bain Capital.
Mr. Booker said he was outraged by attempts by the Republican Party and the Romney campaign to raise funds and score political points off the controversy.
“I was doing no interviews and it wasn’t until the GOP went across that line that I said, ‘Forget it, I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stand no more,” Mr. Booker said.
Mr. Booker accused the Republicans of “plucking soundbites” and manipulating them “for their own purposes.”
“Anybody who watched the entire Meet The Press saw, not only was I defending Obama’s position on numerous issues, but I also talked about Super PAC money and the negative campaigning,” said Mr. Booker. “My outrage and, really, my frustration was about the cynical negative campaigning, the manipulating of the truth.”
Following Mr. Booker’s Meet The Press interview, the Republican National Committee claimed the Obama campaign forced Mr. Booker to walk back his comments. The RNC also solicited by circulating an “I Stand With Cory” petition.
“To say, ‘I stand with Cory Booker,’ I have not seen a Republican national candidate, with maybe the exception of Jack Kemp a long time ago, to be willing to stand with me in places like Newark, New Jersey … places that they seem–often the GOP seems to want to imagine doesn’t exist,” Mr. Booker said. “Anybody in the GOP who wants to stand with me, please stand with me, stand with me for marriage eaulity as Barack Obama stands up for, stand with me for not turning back the clock on women in terms of medical issues and other things like Barack Obama is standing against, stand with me on making healthcare more accessible to all, stand with me for making college more affordable as President Obama is doing.”
After his controversial Meet The Press interview, Mr. Booker released a video in which he clarified his comments by saying he thinks the attacks on Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital career are “reasonable” because, ”Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign.” The RNC characterized this appearance as “orchestrated” and said Mr. Booker was being silenced by the Obama campaign. Mr. Booker defended the need to clarify his comments.
“I certainly did talk with campaign officials, but they didn’t force me to do anything,” he said. “[President Obama] was not condemning all of private equity, he was not condemning any particular firms, he was focusing in on a guy who’s bragging about his job creation record. To me, that’s fair game.”
Mr. Booker also said he regretted that his remarks seemed to “conflate” the Obama campaigns critiques of Bain Capital with Republican attacks against the president for his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
“You cannot even equate the negativity on the right with what’s happening by some sectors on the left,” said Mr. Booker.
Following this incident, Mr. Booker said he plans to continue helping the president’s re-election efforts. He also plans to keep criticizing negative campaigning and the influence of Super PAC money on politics.