msnbc | May 21, 2012
>>> it is the campaign gaffe everyone is talking about. this morning a top surrogate to the president's reelection team is walking back his criticism of the campaign's attacks on mitt romney 's record at bain capital . here's what newark mayor cory booker said on "meet the press" sunday --
>> from a very personal level, i'm not about to sit here and indict private. to me, we're getting to a ridiculous point in america f. you look at the totality of bain capital 's record, they've done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. it's nauseating to the american public. enough is enough.
>> so that laid the foundation for the conversation which mayor booker then took to twitter saying, quote, i'll always prioritize my nation over a political party and right now crass and divisive partisan politics is not serving the citizens of my city. yes, obama must be reelected but we as a nation owe it to him and ourselves to reject politics as usual. by this time, the rnc had blasted out a video of booker's comments. later on sunday came this web video from the mayor himself.
>> let me be clear, mitt romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. he's talked about himself as a job creator. and therefore, it is reasonable and in fact i encourage it for the obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it. i have no problem with that.
>> let's bring in our political power panel this morning. reid wilson, margie o'meara and robert trainer. it's great to see all three of you. interesting to see the mayor take to his office to record his own one-on-one "meet the press," so to speak. margie , how much was the obama campaign involved in mayor booker's decision to backtrack this, basically fix this.
>> i'm a new jersey native and a khaca cory booker super fan . he speaks for himself on "meet the press" and when he releases videos and goes on twitter. i think we should -- all of these things are things he said for himself. he mentioned in the video that mitt romney brings up his record on bain as a reason why he understands the economy. that makes it a perfectly good thing to discuss and say, well, let's explore that record in more detail. when you combine that with everything else that he's said, corporations are people, let detroit go bankrupt, that's a real picture of mitt romney .
>> margie , though, if the mayor speaks and stands for himself, why backtrack anything? let "meet the press" and what he had to say on that stand for itself. why then take to twitter and release a video clarification to try to re-establish what your point was?
>> as a surrogate, he wants to be helpful to the president. and you'd have to ask him, i guess. i guess he thought that would be helpful, in addition to having the time and the opportunity that a youtube video plus the follow-up tweets would provide.
>> they didn't waste a lot of time trying to pull this one together, robert . cory booker is the second obama guy kind of to slam the campaign's attacks on bain . first it was the president's former car czar, steve rattner, on " morning joe ." now it's booker. how can they stay on message and not veer off course like this?
>> first and foremost, isn't it refreshing that a person out there who's a public official is speaking his mind and telling the truth? i think that's refreshing. but also surrogates are just that. they are clearly speaking on behalf of the campaign but first and foremost, they speak on behalf of themselves and from their own unique perspective. cory booker is a moderate democrat. he's clearly representing a city that's going through a lot of issues right now. so i applaud him for speaking his mind and for speaking the truth. here's the unfortunate truth about bain capital . the obama campaign likes to bring out that ad in terms of a lot of people being laid off and so forth. when that company was laid off, mitt romney actually left bain capital by then and actually an obama super supporter was running bain capital at that time. we need to clarify some of the remarks out there.
>> so let's take a look, though, because as all of this is being discussed this monday morning, the obama campaign has released a brand-new bain video. it's on the web today. focuses on this indiana company that had dealings with bain . let's take a look.
>> we were a nice, strong, healthy company. we were making money and for them to just come out from nowhere and shut the place down, it was devastating. took our benefits. we didn't have any more retirement. bain and mitt romney did not care about us as workers. they were looking at the mighty dollar.
>> bain was not about building job growth unless it was to be profitable in certain places and in other areas where it wasn't, they would make those cuts. the question is whether bain is fair game . reid, do you agree with cory booker 's new position that romney can be targeted over bain since he's made job creation the centerpiece of his campaign and that he can fix this country's problems?
>> it's clear the obama campaign is going to try to do that. this has has been the central trust of their argument that mitt romney is a venture capitalist . democrats have the same kind of advertisements set to come out in a whole bunch of states. there are examples from south carolina and several other places. with a venture capital firm , they're going to be involved in a lot of enterprises around the country. democrats have all of those attacks lined up and ready to go. i wouldn't be surprised if we see a new video like this popping every monday. then again, if democratic surrogates go on "meet the press," it undercuts the effectiveness of some of these advertisements.
>> as we talk about this issue with bain , it's worked twice before against mitt romney , in '94 and the past republican primary . does the obama campaign -- what do they have to lose with this line of attack? they can pretty much come up with one a week if they wanted to. what do they have to lose, if anything?
>> mitt romney is the one who brings this up. he brings up his bain experience as a sign that he understands job growth . it's very much worth discussing when people are hurting around the country and signs that mitt romney both in his past and currently has difficulty understanding the struggles that people face. and these ads just illustrate that. i also want to mention something that robert touched on earlier. mitt romney used jobs created some of these companies after he left. he counts that as jobs he helped to create. if he uses -- he uses this math of any company that he worked on while he was at bain . so i think it's fair game to talk about the job losses when he was in charge and immediately after.
>> our political power panel --
>> thomas, can i respond to that.
>> robert , i've got to jump, so, no. but i appreciate you wanting to. but i'm going to get yelled at.
>> thank you all so much.