Cory Booker giveth, Cory Booker taketh away … and Harold Ford giveth back again. Telling the Morning Joe crew that Booker’s “clarification” of the Newark mayor’s criticism of the Obama campaign’s attacks on private equity was understandable and perhaps inevitable, the former Congressman said that he would not have retreated one step from the criticism:

Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said Monday that he would not have walked back New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker’s surprising comments criticizing the Obama campaign for attacking private equity.

“I would not have backed off the comments if I were Mayor Booker,” Ford, a Democrat, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The substance of his comments on ‘Meet the Press,’ I agree with the core of it. I would not have backed them out… private equity’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances.”

“Having said that, I understand as a surrogate for the campaign, you have to have one of your key and most eloquent and most effective surrogates at least clarify or at least bring context to his statements,” continued Ford.

Actually, I agree that Mitt Romney’s record at Bain is fair game in the presidential election — as long as we’re talking about Romney’s record.  The first Bain attack ad talked about something that took place two years after Romney had already left, but during the tenure of a current Obama bundler who worked at Bain later.  The same day that Team Obama launched the Bain attack, Obama held a fundraiser hosted by Tony James of Blackstone, another private-equity firm that occasionally partnered with Bain on projects.

The problem with these attacks is both accuracy and hypocrisy.  Obama has no trouble raising money from private-equity firms (or perhaps he does have trouble doing so), but then demonizes and demagogues the private-equity industry.  That’s what Booker found “nauseating” during his brief moment of candor, and what bothers Ford and everyone else.

Update: The RNC is wasting no time in capitalizing on the rift:

Yesterday New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, a surrogate spokesman for the Obama campaign called the president’s attacks on the free market “ridiculous”. That’s right Mr. President, we aren’t going to let you destroy free enterprise. Stand up for America. Stand up for job creators.

You can sign the petition at the link above.