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
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.”