Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced his regret after being criticized for what was seen as a patronizing remark about Sen. Cory Booker.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was called out after his compliment of the New Jersey lawmaker as “well-spoken” was taken as a racially condescending remark.
“I probably shouldn’t have used the word,” Bloomberg said at a campaign event in Georgia, noting that he and his current 2020 rival endorsed each other in their local runs for office, campaigned for each other and have “stayed friends.”
“But I can just tell you he is a friend of mine, and he is a Rhodes Scholar, which is much more impressive than my academic background. I envy him, and he can certainly speak for himself,” the billionaire added.
Bloomberg made his original comment about Booker during an interview on “CBS This Morning” which aired on Friday.
“Cory Booker endorsed me a number of times, and I endorsed Cory Booker a number of times. He’s very well-spoken, he’s got some good ideas,” he told Gayle King, noting that with the pool of 2020 Democratic candidates, “it would be better the more diverse any group is, but the public is out there picking and choosing and narrowing down this field.”
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) December 6, 2019
Though it wasn’t clear that Bloomberg intended his comment to be offensive to Booker, his use of the phrase was slammed by those who pointed out its racial undertones.
@MikeBloomberg we are NOT having the “well spoken” conversation with you. Stop perpetuating stereotypes and misnomers of that nature. THANKS!
— Natasha N. Johnson (@NNJohnsonEdD) December 6, 2019
“He [Booker] is well spoken”??!!
Why do people say this about candidates of color, but not about their white counterparts?
— Rose in Chicago (@KeepinKidsSafe) December 6, 2019
Gayle should have pounced on that “well spoken ” microaggression. Shame.
— Monique Crawford (@swiss9911) December 6, 2019
You’ll recall that Joe Biden called Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean” in 2007. That went over well.https://t.co/xeJ8Wrjf5J
— Dan Rosenbaum (@brooklyndan) December 6, 2019
Booker responded to the remarks during an interview Friday on SiriusXM radio show “Signal Boost.”
“I was taken aback by it,” the former Newark mayor said.
Mike Bloomberg called @CoryBooker “well-spoken,” which drew criticisms from voters of color.
— Signal Boost (@SignalBoostShow) December 6, 2019
“I’ll say this, you know, Mike and I have known each other for a long time,” Booker added, noting the former mayor’s support for him when he was the mayor of Newark and Bloomberg was New York City’s mayor from 2006 to 2013.
“It’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these sort of tired tropes or the language we have out there that I don’t think folks understand,” Booker said in a radio interview that he shared on Twitter. “The fact that they don’t understand is problematic.”
“I have a great deal of regard for him as somebody who helped me help the city of Newark,” Booker said. “I’m sure Mike gets it now, I hope, and I hope people around him are talking to him about why that plays into what is, for the black community in particular, just these are signs of frustration that we continue to deal with.”
In another interview, Booker noted again that he considers Bloomberg a “friend who’s been there for me.”
Re: @MikeBloomberg‘s comments about diversity in the field & referring to @CoryBooker as “well spoken” Booker said he doesn’t want to get into a “critique” of Bloomberg, but said “we’ve got to make sure we got a nominee that doesn’t have to have this stuff explained to them” pic.twitter.com/zZjDuzSQZd
— Adam Brewster (@adam_brew) December 6, 2019
Though he did not mention Bloomberg by name, Booker did complain about the “billionaires in the race” in reaction to Sen. Kamala Harris dropping out of the race.
Cory Booker on @AM2DM right now about his friend Kamala Harris leaving the race: “My first reaction was just anger… I don’t understand how we’ve gotten tot his place where there’s more billionaires in the race than there are black people.”
— Molly Hensley-Clancy (@mollyhc) December 4, 2019
“I don’t understand how we’ve gotten to this place where there’s more billionaires in the race than there are black people,” Booker said during a BuzzFeed News interview.
While many jumped on Bloomberg for his initial “well-spoken” remark about Booker, some Twitter users offered a different perspective.
I was called well spoken in an interview. Should I be offended?
— Nic Z (@nicz1984) December 6, 2019
Really? What’s wrong with being-well spoken? There are people of all races who are not. Now we’re just inventing reasons to be angry.
— Abraham Roberts (@ajrober2) December 6, 2019
It’s not a back-handed insult. Only someone with a chip on their shoulder would see it that way.
— Buffy T (@BTerfington) December 6, 2019
Is that really offensive? I believe that Sen Booker truly is an excellent communicator; he chooses words with precision and expertise. Doesn’t that mean he’s well-spoken?
— Beth Abrams (@Swim25Mom) December 6, 2019
this is awesome the left is now using race baiting tactics against each other
— RealLifeProduct (@overseere) December 7, 2019
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