It’s bye-bye, Beltway for Cory Booker.
Newark’s mayor, who was gunning for a spot in President Obama’s Cabinet, lost the chance after he shot his mouth off during a blunderingly honest TV appearance last month, sources told The Post.
“He’s dead to us,” one ranking administration official said of the prevailing feelings at the White House and Obama headquarters in Chicago.
Booker had been angling for the housing secretary gig in a second Obama term, according to sources in the administration and close to the mayor.
The job was certainly a possibility, given Booker’s work in New Jersey’s biggest city, according to administration and Democratic Party sources.
ON THE OUTS: The once-close relationship between President Obama and Cory Booker has turned cold after the Newark mayor angered the Obama camp by denouncing attempts to badmouth Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital.
Thinking highly of Booker, Obama’s campaign asked him to appear on “Meet the Press” on May 20 to act as a mouthpiece, but he proceeded to eviscerate one of the president’s key campaign themes.
Booker told a national TV audience the president’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at private-equity firm Bain Capital were “nauseating” and made him “very uncomfortable.”
“I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” said Booker, a rising Democratic star tapped by the president’s campaign as a “surrogate” speaker for Obama. “If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses.”
Almost immediately, top Obama aides were speed-dialing Booker, insisting he backpedal from his comments before returning to the Garden State. But the mayor wouldn’t do that.
Booker further enraged them by waiting until that night to post an online video that was neither cleared by the campaign nor acceptable to Obama strategists.
And then Booker did it again. The next night, he went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show to talk about his earlier comments without discussing it with the campaign or working out a cohesive message with Obama’s team. During that appearance, Booker threw even more fuel on the fire when he made it look as if he had been ordered to retract his comments because he decided to “clarify” them after “he did talk with campaign officials.”
“Cory and Barack Obama have never been besties, but that was the final nail. It’s like, ‘You’re dead and done.’ The firing squad is out,” said a Democratic source in contact with both sides. “It’s not just that he messed up, it was that he compounded it and didn’t have their back when they gave him a national stage to talk.”
The Obama camp tried to play down the bad blood with Booker yesterday.
“Mayor Booker’s comments are behind us and we are working together to re-elect the president in November,” said Patrick Gaspard, head of the Democratic National Committee.
Other campaign insiders insist that Booker is not persona non grata, although he is in the doghouse and knows it.
“What he did was undermine a leading argument for the campaign. It was a serious distraction. Not a minor screw-up; a major screw-up,” a Democratic source said. “He is trying to figure out how to work his way back in the fold.”
Last weekend, Booker did a West Coast swing for the Obama campaign and is already scheduled for upcoming appearances.
In Seattle, Booker joked that the campaign had instructed him not to “stick your foot in your mouth again . . .So this is my probation speech.”
Booker’s comments on “Meet the Press” opened the floodgates for other Democrats to get off message.
In recent weeks, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said, “I think Bain is a perfectly fine company. They’ve got a role in the private economy and I’ve got a lot of friends there.”
Then former President Bill Clinton said Romney “had a sterling business career,” and endorsed an immediate extension of the Bush tax cuts.
And yesterday, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — who used to head the Democratic National Committee — minimized Obama’s background entering the presidency, saying Hillary Rodham Clinton “would’ve come in with a lot more executive experience . . . I think the president was hurt by being a legislator only.”
For his part, Bill Clinton personally apologized yesterday for going rogue on Obama.
“I’m very sorry about what happened,” the former president told CNN. “I thought something had to be done on the “fiscal cliff’ before the election. Apparently nothing has to be done until the first of the year.”
*Article by New York Post*