NEW YORK — For the second day, Newark Mayor Cory Booker scrambled to clarify his comments criticizing the Obama campaign’s assault on Mitt Romney’s job creation record at Bain Capital after he sent the Obama administration into full blown damage-control while the GOP continued to take full advantage of the New Jersey mayor’s blunder on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Booker called Team Obama’s Bain attack “nauseating” political discourse with which Booker has become “very uncomfortable,” on “Meet the Press” Sunday.
The GOP quickly responded by sending out an email today to supporters reading, “Do you know what Obama does with people who stand up for job creators? He silences them. That’s right. By Sunday evening the Obama campaign had pressured Booker into taking back his support of the free market … Don’t let the White House silence free enterprise! If you agree, then please sign our petition: I STAND WITH CORY BOOKER” And if you missed the email, the landing page for www.GOP.com currently reads: ‘I stand with Cory.’”
Booker responded to the GOP’s email on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday night.
“That slogan had me and my entire staff really fit to be tied,” he said. ”Here they are plucking sound bites out of [the 'Meet The Press'] interview to manipulate them in a cynical manner, to use them for their own purposes … I’m very upset that I’m being used by the GOP this way.”
Booker told Maddow that he doesn’t plan to stay quiet.
“If anything, they’ve turned me on to work harder for the next six months. I thought I was going to be quiet, but you’re going to hear a lot from me,” he said.
Booker’s MSNBC appearance tonight followed Team Obama’s efforts on Monday to distance the campaign from Booker. Chief Obama strategist David Axelrod publicly rebuked Booker earlier today, saying he was “just wrong.”
“I agree with what [Booker] said later. I think this was a legitimate area for discussion,” Axelrod said of Booker’s subsequent comments clarifying the issue.
Booker attempted to explain his comments, again, on MSNBC on Monday night.
“Obviously, I did things in the ‘Meet the Press’ interview that did not land the points [I was trying to make] … When [Romney] says, I’m a job creator, I think that’s a characterization of his record that deserves inquiry, and I think the way the president himself is talking about is something I will defend, in fact something I will echo,” he said.
Booker emphasized the common ground he shares with President, noting that no one put him up to tonight’s appearance.
“They have never pressured me to do anything,” said Booker. “I certainly did talk with campaign officials but they didn’t force me to do anything. Especially after hearing the president’s remarks on this issue, where he was not condemning all of private equity, he was not condemning any particular firms, he was focusing in on a guy who’s bragging about his job creation record — all of those things made me say, you know what, I need to go on and clarify.”
And for anyone not watching MSNBC tonight, Booker has taken to Twitter.
“Let me be clear, #IStandWithObama,” @CoryBooker tweeted moments after going off the air tonight.