Newark Mayor Cory Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party, a hero for many progressives and an official surrogate for the Obama re-election campaign. But on yesterday’s Meet the Press
, he referred to the President’s current attacks on Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital as “nauseating.” It’s easy to blame Booker for putting his future ambitions ahead of the President’s re-election – and there’s enough to suggest
that Booker’s ties with hedge funds was a factor. But Cory Booker is not Vice President Joe Biden, whose loose tongue inadvertently got Obama to endorse marriage equality. Booker is a careful politician with very close ties to the President, so it’s a lot harder to think this was spontaneous. And while Obama raises money from the same kind of vulture capitalists (including the top executives
at Bain Capital), the most potent attack that Democrats have against Mitt Romney in November will prove vulnerable.
Progressives angry at how Wall Street banks have ruined our economy, could not have
asked for a better Republican nominee than Willard Mitt Romney. It took a while for the Obama campaign to find its voice, but his recent commercials now playing
are exactly what’s needed to frame the debate. Voters are unhappy with the economy, which would make any incumbent vulnerable. But they’re not going to replace Obama with Mitt Romney – once they have learned that he’s a vulture capitalist who hemorrhaged American jobs by flipping companies.
Cory Booker’s comments on Meet the Press
were infuriating, because it undermined that whole message. Not only did he say the Obama attacks on Bain Capital made him “uncomfortable,” he went so far as to call it nauseating
. “I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity,” said Booker. “If you look at the totality of Bain Capital's record, they've done a lot to support businesses – to grow businesses. And this to me, I'm very uncomfortable.” Booker went on to make an extremely inappropriate analogy to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright attacks on Obama.
Booker’s statements were discouraging, because his strong stance for gay marriage and track record in Newark
had made progressives hope for his future in the Democratic Party. But it’s easy to indict Booker for putting his personal ambitions ahead of 2012 – as he looks to raise money from hedge fund executives for a future run for statewide office, or the presidency. “Financial support from Wall Street … has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams,” wrote Steve Kornacki at Salon
. Given that Booker is an official surrogate for the Obama campaign, did he have the President’s blessing to “go rogue” on national television?
This was not a Joe Biden moment – where the loose-lipped Vice President goes on Meet the Press
and endorses marriage equality, prompting Obama to finally endorse it as well. Cory Booker is a far smoother politician than that, and it’s hard to think he was only
putting his future ambitions to curry favor from Wall Street ahead of being a loyal foot soldier for Team Obama. Because despite Obama’s recent attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, Wall Street throws enough money at the Democrats that makes it harder to go after them.
In a piece published on Saturday
, Alexander Bolton reported in The Hill
that – despite Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital – Democrats have actually raised more
from Bain Capital executives than Republicans, by a more than 2:1 margin. During the last three election cycles, Democrats have raised over $1.2 million from Bain executives – with Obama raising over $27,000 in the first three quarters of 2011 alone.
“The sums collected by Democrats from managing partners and other senior executives at Bain,” said Bolton, “could hamper the Democratic message that Romney is a corporate raider who does not care about workers, charges based on his record as CEO of Bain.” How willing will Obama be at making Mitt Romney’s job-destroying record at Bain – although it’s a potent campaign issue – when he and other Democrats like Cory Booker are so close to these hedge fund executives?
Besides asking Cory Booker why he sabotaged a potent campaign issue in what may be a close election, did President Obama allow him to “go rogue” so that Wall Street executives understand that Democrats don’t really
mean it when they attack Romney’s wealth? If we want the 2012 election to build momentum for holding the 1% accountable, it’s clear that we won’t just be fighting with Mitt Romney. Already, too many Democrats – including the President – are controlled by Wall Street.