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Cory Booker walks back criticism of President Obama

10:21 AM, May 21, 2012   |    comments
Cory Booker
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By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is walking back his remark that campaign tactics from President Obama's team are "nauseating."

In a four-minute video, the New Jersey Democrat tries to explain what he meant in an NBC interview on Sunday when he criticized an ad by the Obama campaign that attacked Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital.

Booker, a rising star mentioned as a possible candidate for governor, makes clear in the video he uploaded Sunday night on YouTube that he supports Obama and believes Romney's career at the private equity firm is fair game.

"I used the word 'nauseating' on Meet the Press because that's really how I feel, when I see people in my city struggling with real issues," Booker says on his video.

"I get very upset when I see such a level of dialogue that calls us to our lowest common denominators and not the kind of things that can unify us as a nation and move us forward as a nation," he said.

Regarding Bain Capital, a private-equity firm co-founded by Romney, Booker said this in his NBC interview:

I have to say from a very personal level I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it's just, we're getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially, I know, I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. 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 with.

The Republican National Committee circulated Booker's comments via an e-mail with the subject line: "They Said It! Mayor Cory Booker Hits Obama Campaign for Attacks on Private Sector."  

Here's what Booker said about the campaign's negative tone in the Meet the Press interview:

It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.

That last remark was in reference to a GOP super PAC's attempt to link Obama to controversial statements made by his former pastor. That race-based attack was never approved, and Romney has repudiated such a tactic.

Booker said in his video that Romney has made his business record "a centerpiece of his campaign" and that he "encourages" the Obama campaign to examine that record.

Booker, first elected mayor of Newark in 2006, has attracted national attention for his efforts to fight crime and improve the city's schools. He's also garnered headlines when he jumped into a burning house to save a woman's life.

Obama had considered him as a possible appointee to lead a White House Office on Urban Affairs, but Booker turned down the offer to focus on his work in Newark.


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