Did Cory Booker Have a Point?

Politicos analyze the Newark, N.J., mayor's arguments after he went rogue on Obama during Meet the Press.

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According to Michelle Bernard, president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy, Booker's remarks were honest and refreshing. "If you read in proper context his comments about the attacks on private equity, as well as people who were trying to bring up Rev. Jeremiah Wright, I don't find anything wrong whatsoever with what he said," Bernard told The Root. "The fact that he came under attack is absurd. It's a sad state of affairs that in American politics you cannot call things the way you see them and speak the truth."

Michael Fauntroy, an associate professor at the George Mason School of Public Policy, concurred that there's nothing wrong with people speaking their truth, but added, "The problem is, he was speaking on behalf of someone else, and when you speak on behalf of someone else you have to sing their tune, not yours. Mayor Booker told the truth as he sees it, and then realized almost immediately that his truth runs counter to the campaign's purposes. That's the mistake he made."

On the other hand, Fauntroy posits, Booker's remarks were also politically strategic. "He of course has aspirations, statewide and perhaps national," he said. "If he's going to run statewide in New Jersey, he's going to need Wall Street money and venture capital money. He understands that he can't [attack] venture capitalism the way some other Democrat could because that could pose problems for him down the line."

Yet at the heart of Booker's argument was the idea that focusing on Bain Capital ultimately distracts from issues that most voters care about. This lies in stark contrast to the approach by the Obama campaign, which doubled down on the attack line this week by launching Romney Economics, a website examining specific tactics employed by Romney at Bain Capital, as well as a new video focusing on job losses that ensued at an Indiana company in which Bain invested.

"That is ripe for discussion in the context of the presidential election because Romney has made his record at Bain -- as someone who created jobs and knows how to run a business -- what he's running on," Bernard allowed. "But in the long run, does a conversation about whether private equity is good or bad really matter to the people who need the most help in the country? For people struggling to make ends meet, none of this matters, and to me that's what Cory Booker was saying."

Fauntroy argues that the president practically has no choice but to focus on Bain. "It's a false equivalency to equate Bain and Jeremiah Wright," he said. "The last time the president even spoke with Jeremiah Wright, according to campaign officials, was sometime before his so-called 'race speech' in April of 2008. So there's no real reason to bring in Wright. Bain, however, is at the core of Romney's candidacy."

Booker's Standing in Team Obama

So now that Booker has walked back his Sunday show shakeup, will he be able to live it down as an Obama surrogate?

"In the long run, he'll be fine because he's an eloquent spokesman for the campaign," said Fauntroy. "They may keep the reins on him a little tighter, and pick and choose a bit more about under what circumstances he speaks, but he's still valuable to them."

On this point, Bernard agreed. "All of this is absolutely meaningless," she said. "Booker has got a bright future ahead of him."

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