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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GOP strategist Mike Murphy and Cory Booker (NBC NewsWire)

(The Root) -- After appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, a surrogate for President Obama's re-election campaign, raised more than simple awareness about the president's tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families. The popular mayor, widely considered a growing Democratic star, also raised quite a few eyebrows.

During a panel on economic policy in which Booker praised Obama's record with working Americans, he went off-message when he chided the Obama campaign for making an issue of Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital.

"From a very personal level, I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity," Booker said, adding that he's "very uncomfortable" with criticism of Romney's private-sector work. "If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses."

Booker went on to equate attacks on Romney's record at Bain with criticism of Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright. "This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," he said. "Stop attacking private equity, stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop, because what it does is it undermines, to me, what this country should be focused on."

When all hell broke loose -- angry Obama supporters taking to Twitter to express their disappointment to Booker, a triumphant Republican National Committee promoting his remarks and John McCain applauding Booker for his "straight talk" -- later on Sunday Booker posted a YouTube video walking back on some of his criticisms.

He first clarified that he is simply frustrated by negative campaigning, especially in light of the mounting influence of super PACs and more pressing concerns. "When I see people in my city struggling with real issues and still feeling the challenges of this economy, and still looking for hope and opportunity and real specific plans, I get very upset when I see such a level of dialogue that calls to our lowest common denominators and not the kind of things that are going to unify us as a nation and move us forward," he said.

Booker then argued that Romney's private-sector work was, in fact, fair game: "Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. He's talked about himself as a job creator. Therefore it is reasonable, and in fact I encourage it, for the Obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it. I have no problem with that.

"In fact, I believe that Mitt Romney in many ways is not being honest about his role and his record even as a business person and is shaping it to serve his political purposes and not necessarily including all the facts from his time there," said Booker.

Beyond the anger from the left and glee from the right, Booker's statements have also sparked more nuanced takes on the balance that campaign spokespeople must tow, the cutthroat nature of politics and how Booker's faux pas could have been strategically designed to help him politically, in the long run.

The Trouble With Speaking Your Truth

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