Newark Mayor Cory Booker's gaffe -- when he said attacks on Mitt Romney's Bain Capital record were "nauseating" -- was probably not a gaffe at all. Nevertheless, when you decided to attack the most powerful person in your own party on a central issue of the campaign, it can be hard to predict the fallout. Let's assess how it all turned out.
Good (or potentially good) things:
1. Right-wing friends. "Cory Booker Got It Right," is a headline at Newsmax, a very conservative website, with Lanny Davis's byline. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page portrayed him as a persecuted truth-teller.
2. The aura of centrism. This is important if Booker runs for national office, because he's a Democrat from the Northeast who ran a big blue city. He can run those ads that say, "I took on my own party..."
3. Happy donors. Booker raised large amounts of money from the financial services industry since he first ran for office in 2002. Those workers have had their feelings hurt several times since the financial crisis in 2008-- think Jamie Dimon's announcement that he's "barely a Democrat" on Meet the Press. Booker has raised $491,000 from the industry in the last nine months, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. They like him: Booker "seems to understand the important role private equity plays growing and strengthening businesses in Newark and throughout New Jersey," a spokesman for Private Equity Growth Capital Council told the newspaper.
4. More TV bookings. Booker can take on the role of the person reporters point to prove opposition to something is bipartisan. Those sentences usually go something like, "Even the liberal X cast his doubts on Y…" And, for a mayor from a mid-sized city, suddenly a whole lot of people know his name. “He’s 42 years old!” Booker donor Andrew Tisch told Politico's Maggie Haberman and Emily Schultheis. "When you say, name the great mayors in the United States, you start with Bloomberg, you go to (Rahm) Emanuel, you get to (Antonio) Villaraigosa, and then you get to Booker. He’s on the top of everybody’s tongue, and he’s made a hell of a name for himself at a very young age..."
5. A very powerful enemy. Booker is expected to run for New Jersey governor in 2014. If Obama is reelected, Booker probably won't get much help in the Democratic primary, Politico reports:
“It is absolutely crazy to go and blast the president,” said one Democratic operative who knows Booker well, and asked not to be identified. “And he could have gotten away with it. He could have bemoaned negative campaigning. That would have been fine and that would have been great. (But) he compared the Bain attack to Jeremiah Wright. That’s crazy.”
6. An embarrassing starring role in a Republican ad. Mitt Romney's campaign quickly put together a video showing Democrats denouncing the Bain attacks -- and Booker hada starring role. Every time that ad's replayed, it reminds Booker's allies that they can't entirely count on him.
On balance, it looks like a good week for Booker. We look forward to seeing him on more Sunday shows very soon.