Booker puts civility back in the spotlight

Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker is in some political hot water after calling the prospect of negative campaign ads “nauseating,” including a controversial spot from the Obama campaign.

Booker, a Democrat, told Meet The Press on Sunday he was upset about an Obama political advertisement last week about Bain Capital and a potential ad about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright from a GOP-affiliated group.

“It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright,” Booker said on TV.

In a matter of minutes, the GOP was on the social media offensive, touting Booker as an Obama critic.

By Sunday night, Booker mounted a social media counteroffensive, clarifying his remarks, supporting President Obama and saying that attacking Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former firm, was political fair game.

Just out of coincidence, the Obama campaign released a second ad about Bain Capital on Monday, citing another set of layoffs after the investment firm bought a company.

The Obama campaign ads on Bain Capital show that his campaign is testing out strategies that target job concerns in battleground states.

But lost in coverage of Booker’s “explanation” last night was his repeated insistence on some kind of civility in the fall campaign.

“I used the word ‘nauseating’ on Meet the Press because that’s really how I feel, when I see people in my city struggling with real issues,” Booker said on Sunday night.

“I get very upset when I see such a level of dialogue that calls us to our lowest common denominators and not the kind of things that can unify us as a nation and move us forward as a nation,” he said.

Booker might be in the political dog house but his point about negative campaign ads resonates with many Americans.

A February 2012 article in the Washington Post showed a huge uptick in negative campaign ads in the Republican primaries, with 72 percent of ads funded by super PACs lumped in the negative category.

What remains to be seen is how voters will react to an onslaught of negative campaign ads into November, with the economy as the election’s centerpiece.

They may react like Cory Booker did.

Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of Constitution Daily.

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