Morning Examiner: Booker’s Bungle

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

How much damage did Newark Mayor Cory Booker do to President Obama’s reelection campaign on Meet the Press yesterday? It is still far too early to tell, but judging from the swift reaction of Obama’s campaign, Chicago must view the potential damage to be huge.

The fun started on Sunday when David Gregory asked Booker to defend the Obama campaign ads attacking Romney over his tenure at Bain Capital. Booker responded:

As far as that stuff, I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just this–we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that 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, it ain’t–they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses, And this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.

This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. 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. It’s a distraction from the real issues. It’s either going to be a small campaign about this crap or it’s going to be a big campaign, in my opinion, about the issues that the American public cares about.

The Romney campaign could not have scripted a better response. And the progressive left began to attack him mercilessly. Salon called him “the surrogate from hell,” Digby called him a “concern troll,” and Atrios made him the Wanker of the Day.

Initially Booker stood his ground, tweeting out two messages echoing his sentiments from Meet the Press. But Obama’s Chicago enforcers eventually caught up with him. At 9 PM Booker posted a three minute 42 second video on his own YouTube channel “expanding” his explanation of support for Obama. Just in case the Booker video was too nuanced, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt tweeted out a link to a separate YouTube channel that clipped 35 seconds from Booker’s video, where Booker attacks Romney and supports Obama’s decision to do the same.

Booker’s Meet the Press bungle will probably be forgotten by election day, but it is a symptom of a much larger problem for Obama. He has no positive record to run on. His advisers know he can only win by tearing down Romney. But this strategy is the opposite of the brand he established in 2008. The “Hope and Change” are gone. This is not the last time we are going to see Obama surrogates fail to stay on Chicago’s reelection message. Unlike Obama, many of them will have to face voters again.

Campaign 2012
Politico, Obama super PAC slump continues: The pro-Barack Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action is still struggling to keep up with GOP super PACs preparing to unleash millions of dollars in independent advertisements. Priorities USA Action raised $1.6 million in April, according to federal records released late Sunday. It’s the smallest haul the group has pulled in since the meager $59,000 the group raised in January.

Veepstakes: In South Carolina, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called Obama the most “divisive figure in modern American history.” And in The Wisconsin State Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., outlines “a better future for graduates.”

Wisconsin: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has endorsed Gov. Scott Walker: “We see no reason to remove Walker from office. We recommend him in the June 5 recall election.”

Around the Bigs
The Washington Post, White House visitor logs show lobbying going strong: A Washington Post review of White House visitor logs shows that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access.

The New York Times, Supply Lines Cast Shadow at NATO Meeting on Afghan War: At this weekend’s G8 meeting, President Obama failed to close a deal to reopen supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Los Angeles Times, Gays may have the fastest of all civil rights movements: Attitudes toward gays and lesbians have changed so much in just the last 10 years that, as Gallup reported last week, “half or more now agree that being gay is morally acceptable, that gay relations ought to be legal and that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to legally marry.”

Righty Playbook
The Wall Street Journal on Bain Capital 101.

The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost advises Romney to “Keep it Simple.”

At The Corner, Jonah Goldberg responds to Joe Klein.

Lefty Playbook
The Washington Post‘s EJ Dionne says the election will come down to a choice between two capitalisms.

The New York Times Andrew Rosenthal advises Obama to run on “fairness.”

ThinkProgress attacks CNN’s Campbell Brown for being married to Dan Senor, a Romney advisor.

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