The story of the day originates once again from Meet The Press. Yesterday, Newark mayor Cory Booker criticized the Obama campaign for their ads attacking Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. Almost immediately after, the rising-star in the Democratic party put out a YouTube video to reaffirm his support for Obama and clarify his comments. Thus arrived a made-for-cable-news story of how the media powerhouse that is Cory Booker drew outside of the party lines and had likely his knuckles rapped across by the Obama camp.
The YouTube video has an unequivocal title, “Mayor Booker Expands on his Support for President Obama.” Contrived enough that it made me a little uncomfortable. Not Booker’s typical politics. While a different interpretation could be had, its playing in the media like a massive flip. This morning Scarborough called it a hostage video.
The Obama camp wants to get rid of this story. They sent Axelrod out to comment and he essentially dodged the question of whether it was the campaign who instigated the backtrack. His calculus is that this will be a 1-2 day story, so he doesn’t have to explicitly state that the Obama camp asked Booker to backtrack. I agree with this, as there is more meat to the original story of Booker contradicting the anti-Bain narrative.
The anti-Bain ads in questionattack Romney as a robber baron. The accuracy of the characterization of Bain capital and Romney’s tenure there is questionable, but the effectiveness of this line of attack is solid. There is a pre-existing narrative established by Newt Gingrich and the Occupy Wall Street movement that Obama’s team is utilizing and adapting for presidential politics. Without a big media story that provides widespread clarification (and inoculation) as to the exact nature of Bain Capital’s operations, this narrative is the one that will stick. This is a huge problem for Romney in his attempt to capture middle-to-low income independents in states like New Hampshire. But this message has limited persuasive ability. Moderate conservatives, including Reagan Democrats, will see the nuanced point Booker was trying to make, which is that an attack on all of private equity is not fair. In fact, that is precisely what the Republican statement in response to all of this said, along with the continuously laughable claim that Obama wants destroy the free market economy.
Some might say Romney needs to provide a palatable message about what he did at Bain Capital. A far better strategy has Romney waiting until the country starts paying attention and moving to the middle to make a simple yet salient argument about the role of government in helping those left behind by efficient capitalism. But, in all likelihood, precisely what Booker was criticizing will happen – the GOP will take this as support for their message that Obama is attacking the free market.
Negative, ham-handed, perhaps even nauseating.