Booker to settle feud on 'Tonight Show'

(AP) - Goodbye YouTube, hello "Tonight Show." Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has garnered national attentionfor his passionate defense of New Jersey's largest city, is takinghis act to the "Tonight Show."

News 12 Staff

Oct 15, 2009, 4:14 AM

Updated 5,391 days ago

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(AP) - Goodbye YouTube, hello "Tonight Show."
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has garnered national attentionfor his passionate defense of New Jersey's largest city, is takinghis act to the "Tonight Show." Host Conan O'Brien has beenengaged in a playful feud with Booker since Sept. 23 and scheduledthe 40-year-old mayor as a guest on his show Friday.
The exchange began last month when O'Brien poked fun at Booker'snew health care plan for gritty Newark - long an icon for urbandecay - saying it consisted of a bus ticket out of town. Bookerfought back with a humorous response on YouTube in which he"banned" the 46-year-old redhead from Newark LibertyInternational Airport.
The back-and-forth continued until Secretary of State HillaryRodham Clinton, the nation's top diplomat, playfully broke up thespat Oct. 8.
"I look forward to our summit," O'Brien said in a statement."My apologies for bumping Brad Pitt."
Political experts have lauded Booker's use of new media such asYouTube, where his response to O'Brien has been viewed more than176,000 times, and Twitter, where he has 826,000 followers.
The "Tonight Show" averages about 2.6 million viewers.
"This kind of exposure is extremely rare for someone that's nota senator, governor or presidential candidate," said Joe Trippi, apolitical consultant who managed Democrat Howard Dean'sInternet-driven presidential campaign in 2004. "This shows howsavvy Cory Booker is about new media and how it can be used toleverage mainstream and old media."
Booker succeeded in reducing shootings and homicides in hisfirst term as Newark mayor, which began in July 2006. But thecity's unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in August.
Booker said Newark has been the brunt of unfair jokes andcriticism for too long.
"We're making progress in Newark on problems that impact citieseverywhere," he said.
Steve Adubato, a political power broker in Newark who alliedhimself with Booker this year after a lengthy rivalry, said theyoung mayor gives residents hope and makes them feel like theymatter in a community long overshadowed by nearby New York City.For the first time in 40 years, people are not ashamed to wear aNewark T-shirt, he said. Booker's predecessor, Sharpe James, is in prison for his role inthe cut-rate sale of city land to a former mistress. James' twopredecessors also have been in trouble with the law.
"It's a big thing for us to have some pride like this,"Adubato said.


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