Liberal activists have spent the last two days sharply criticizing him. David Axelrod, the president’s closest adviser, called his comments “wrong.” While not naming him, President Obama also repudiated his remarks.
Can Newark Mayor Cory Booker remain a rising star among Democrats, as he has been for much of his political career, after his defense of private equity and Bain Capital (and by extension Mitt Romney) on Sunday? Yes. Here are three reasons why.
1. Booker quickly realized his mistake and made amends.
He took to Twitter, cut a YouTube video and made an appearance on Rachel Maddow’s show in the days after his comment, all in an attempt to emphasize his support for President Obama and his liberal bona fides.
“Anybody in the GOP who wants to stand with me, please stand with me. Stand with me for marriage equality, as Barack Obama stands up for,” he told Maddow. “Stand with me for not turning the clock back on women in terms of medical issues, like Barack Obama is standing again. Stand with me on making healthcare more accessible to all. Stand with me for making college more affordable as President Obama is doing.”
There is still likely to be some lingering resentment of Booker’s undercutting of the president’s message, particularly since the mayor’s defense of private equity seemed self-serving for a man widely considered a likely candidate for New Jersey governor or senator, who may need that industry’s campaign dollars.
But if Booker is a reliable, on-message backer of Obama the rest of the year on television, and perhaps in a speech at the Democratic National Convention, he will remove some of the stain of his gaffe.
2. He’s one of the party’s few rising black political stars.
Booker, along with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is one of the best positioned African-Americans in the country to win a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race. Even if his star dims some nationally after this controversy, Democrats are unlikely to abandon a man who, in 2014 or 2016, could break into rarefied territory for a black politician: there are zero black senators and only one black governor, Massachusetts Deval Patrick.
3. His mistake likely won’t affect the outcome of the election.
While Booker’s Bain remark dominated headlines in this sleepy time of the election cycle, it is unlikely we will look back in November and think of it as a “game-changer.” Even before Booker’s remarks, which Republicans seized on, it was not clear if all the Bain attacks by the Obama campaign were working, and if it was a strategy they would employ through November. (And so many Democrats are comfortable with the Bain line of attack that Booker is an outlier.)
And of course, Obama is a favorite to win in November, which will make it easier for Democrats to forgive Booker and perhaps Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist who came under fire from the Obama campaign last month for saying Romney’s wife Ann “never worked a day in her life.”
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr