Politics

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Invented Fake Character, Story Used In Campaign Speeches

| by Jonathan Wolfe
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Winston Churchill once said that “a lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

While this exposed lie by Newark Mayor Cory Booker probably did not get halfway around the world, it certainly got at least half way around New Jersey.

During his 2002 mayoral campaign bid, Booker repeatedly told the story of T-Bone  an inner city drug dealer that once threatened to kill him but later confided in him. Booker developed an elaborate story about T-Bone and often appeared to get emotional when discussing him.

Here is a story about T-Bone that Booker told to Stanford’s alumni magazine in 2001.

I still remember my first month on the street. I walked up to this charismatic black guy my age called T-Bone, who was one of the drug lords. I just said, ‘Yo, man, what’s up.’ And he leaped in front of me, looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Who the ---- do you think you are? If you ever so much as look at me again, I’m going to put a cap in your a--.

Booker said he watched T-Bone operate his drug trade on the streets for years. One day, Booker said T-Bone approached him and asked him to “go for a ride.” On the ride, T-Bone broke down and started telling Booker his life story. T-Bone spoke of being born into extreme poverty and being deserted by his mother at a young age. The story culminated with T-Bone sobbing as he says there are warrants out for his arrest.

The story is an emotional tale of the perils of inner-city life. Booker used the story for years to gather support at political campaign rallies. The only problem  T-Bone isn’t real. Booker has not admitted this explicitly to the public, but he has done so to friends.

Rutgers University professor Clement Price is a mentor to Booker. In 2008, Booker told Price that T-Bone was not a real person, but rather was a “composite” character made up of several people he’d met on the streets of Newark. Price told Booker that he disapproved of his fictional character, and asked Booker that if he were going to create a composite of an inner-city Newark man “why don’t you make it W.E.B. DuBois?”

Booker agreed with Price and admitted that inventing T-Bone was a mistake. T-Bone has never been referred to in Booker’s public speeches since.

When asked by the National Review whether T-Bone was a real person, Booker’s campaign administrator Kevin Griffis only said “I think your questions have been answered a long time ago.”

Unfortunately fabricated stories are the norm for politicians. Remember during last year’s presidential debates when Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama kept referencing conversations they had with people across the country? You know, the stories about “George, a mechanic from Florida who can’t provide for his family in this economy” and “Cherice, an accountant in Wisconsin who was just laid off.”

Something tells me those people were probably about as authentic as our friend T-Bone. 

Sources/Photo Credit: National Review, Daily Mail/Time