When Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) went off-message and defended private equity during a "Meet the Press" appearance in May, many Democrats were angry and Republicans used him in their attack ads. And while Booker is standing by his comments, he admits in a Wall Street Journal interview published Monday that he visited the president shortly after the flap to explain himself.
"I wanted to talk to him about. I went to talk to him about. I could see, he's the president and he just knows me … It's all small potatoes," Booker said.
The longtime Obama supporter told the Journal that he "spoke from the heart" when he refused to criticize Mitt Romney's tenure at the helm of private equity firm Bain Capital.
"I could have expressed the same idea in a way that could not have been used by the Republican Party and misconstrued as a direct attack on the president," Booker said. "But the reality is that I stand by what I said. I've never been comfortable with the tone or tenure of negative campaigning."
Booker's controversial comments on "Meet the Press" came as the Obama campaign was escalating its attacks on Romney's record as CEO of Bain Capital and whether the presumptive presidential nominee oversaw the outsourcing of certain companies in the firm's portfolio.
"This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides," Booker told host David Gregory. "It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity."
Days later, Romney's campaign released a minute-long compilation of Democratic politicians, including Booker, standing up for the private equity industry. The web video concluded that "even Obama's own supporters have had enough."