Axelrod says Booker shouldn't stay underground despite flap

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That prompted Axelrod to draw distinction with the rising star in the party in an appearance on MSNBC the next day.

"In this particular instance he was just wrong," Axelrod said. "There are specific instances here that speak to an economic theory that isn’t the right economic theory for the country."

Booker later issued a Web video condoning questions of Romney's tenure, but by that point Republicans had seized on his remarks. The RNC issued a series of Web videos earlier this week featuring Booker and launched a "I stand with Cory Booker" campaign.

But while that penance might have done little to slow the political firestorm brewing around his comments, apparently all is forgiven in Obamaland. Axelrod, asked if Booker should sideline himself after the controversy, deferred.

"No, I don't think so," Axelrod told PolitickerNJ.com.

"We disagree, but to the extent that he clarified his remarks, I think it's fine," the president's senior adviser added.