GOFFSTOWN, PLYMOUTH, and DURHAM, NH -- Just days after Mitt Romney's New Jersey surrogate, Gov. Chris Christie, hit the road for Romney in Iowa, another New Jersey leader, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, yesterday campaigned for President Obama here in New Hampshire, where he criticized of Romney's oft-cited "private sector experience" and issued a few jabs at Christie himself.
"I like to punish people with facts," Booker told students at University of New Hampshire on Friday. "The other side often tries to distract you from the facts. Look at Mitt Romney's first ad! Blatant lies. You can't let people get away with that."
Booker, seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, questioned the flagship credential of Romney's campaign: business and private-sector experience.
“There is no natural correlation between private sector business experience and how you’re going to do,” Booker told reporters in Plymouth.
“Unfortunately New Jersey is seeing that right now with the private-sector business experience of our former governor and the challenges that he’s facing right now,” Booker added, citing former New Jersey Gov. and Sen. Jon Corzine (D), who has found himself in the epicenter of a controversy surrounding MF Global, a brokerage firm. “Is it the private -ector business experience of a Bernie Madoff?”
“Now, I’m not comparing Romney to those folks with all due respect," Booker said. "But I'm saying to you if you look at the presidents we all respect: Abraham Lincoln was a failure at business, was one of our greatest presidents. FDR didn't have private-sector business experience, but did a great job. John F. Kennedy was a phenomenal president that didn't have business experience. Those are false arguments. The reality is who has the better plan for the United States of America."
The Newark mayor, who has been considering a run for Senate and New Jersey governor, also jabbed his state's chief executive, Gov. Christie. Booker joked with students in Durham, "There's a very shy governor of my state -– you probably haven't heard of him because he's very soft spoken."
"My governor is a very pugilistic man, and he's up here punching at my president like crazy, saying outrageous stuff," Booker added. "I can't believe.. that the president is an 'appeaser.' I'm going to keep punishing people with the facts."
The Romney campaign was quick to respond to Booker's comments.
"The Obama Campaign’s decision to deploy a top surrogate to disparage private sector experience is insulting to New Hampshire small business owners and reminds voters of how out of touch this Administration is," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in response to Booker's comments.
Booker did not stop at Romney. He bluntly criticized the entire Republican presidential field.
"Most of them don't even believe in global warming. The other side doesn't believe that we should have expanded Pell grants," he said at Plymouth State University. "The other side doesn't believe that we should have greater equal rights for all Americans. The other side is attacking things that would help the middle class like having a payroll tax cut.
At each stop, Booker implored students and voters across New Hampshire to get out and fight against a "state of sedentary agitation" that he sees in the United States. He admitted Obama's health-care plan "was not perfect," but reminded voters that "change" required a sustained effort and a second term for Obama. His three-stop tour of Saint Anselm College, Plymouth State University, and University of New Hampshire was an effort to help win back young voters Obama may have lost during his first term.
"But I'm not just here to say vote for this guy," Booker said. "This is a state where we need people to get more organized, more involved. Wherever this state goes, it could take the whole country as well. The leadership in this state is critical in the coming months."