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Cory Booker walks back criticism of Obama tactics as ‘nauseating’

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker released a Web video Sunday emphasizing his support for President Obama and clarifying remarks he made earlier in the day that criticized the president's campaign tactics as "nauseating."

“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,” said Booker in the video. “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.

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“I also expressed on 'Meet the Press' my profound frustration with the kind of campaigning which I think is becoming too much of the norm in our nation, which is generally negative campaigning,” Booker continued. 

Earlier Sunday, on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Booker strongly criticized an Obama campaign ad that attacked presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's tenure at private-equity firm Bain Capital.

“This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” Booker said. 

“It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright,” he added, also referring to a proposal floated and quickly rejected by a pro-GOP super-PAC to attack Obama over his connection to his controversial former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

On 'Meet the Press,' Booker went further, saying he would not “indict private equity.” 

“It’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”

The Obama campaign ad in question, released last week, blamed Bain Capital for the closure of a steel plant and the loss of American jobs and accused Romney and other executives of profiting from the decision.

In his YouTube video, Booker backed away from those comments and said Romney's business record at Bain was fair game.

“Mitt Romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign, he's talked about himself as a job creator and therefore it is reasonable and in fact I encourage it for the Obama campaign to examine that record and to discuss it. I have no problem with that,” Booker said.

“In fact, I believe that Mitt Romney in many ways is not being completely honest with his role and his record even while a business person and is shaping it to serve his political interests and is not necessarily including all the facts of his time there,” he added.

On Sunday, Booker also reaffirmed his support for Obama on Twitter, writing: “Yes, Obama must be reelected. But we as a nation owe it to him and ourselves to reject politics as usual.”

The Obama campaign for its part has continued to hammer Romney on his Bain record, releasing a new video on Monday attacking Romney for the bankruptcy of paper-manufacturing company Ampad.

The company, which was purchased by Bain in 1992, eventually went bankrupt in 2000. The video features former workers from the company discussing the loss of their jobs and holding Romney and Bain responsible.

The Romney campaign was quick to jump on Booker’s initial criticisms, using them to blast Obama’s anti-Bain ad blitz. 

“President Obama continues his assault on the free enterprise system with attacks that one of his supporters, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, called 'nauseating' and a former adviser, Steven Rattner, called 'unfair,’ ” Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. “Americans expected a different kind of politics from Barack Obama but, sadly, this is just more of the same failed politics that dominates Washington.”

— Updated at 8:29 a.m.