Chris Cillizza
Reporter August 30, 2013

Will the real T-Bone please stand up?

That’s the purported drug dealer whom Cory Booker regularly cited on the stump and in his early years as mayor of Newark,according to a lengthy piecein the conservative National Review this past week.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House. View Archive

But does T-Bone actually exist? Unclear.

National Review quotes extensively from a speech that Booker, a Democrat, gave at Yale Law Schoolin 2007 in which he recounted in vivid detail his interactions with T-Bone, including a one-on-one car ride with the man: “I found myself in this awkward position of trying to counsel this guy to turn himself in, to actually go to prison, because I knew he would.”

And yet, in a 2008 Esquire profile, Booker said that T-Bone was both “1,000 percent real” and an “archetype.” So, which is it?

Booker allies note that the National Review story tills little new ground beyond what the Esquire piece covered. Fine. But Booker has never seemed to resolve the question of whether T-Bone, you know, exists.

Back in 2008, Booker was a mayor with a bright future. Today he is on the verge of being elected to the U.S. Senate — with talk of even higher office on the horizon.

Does the squishy T-Bone story line mean that Booker’s rapid ascent to the Senate will slow? Nope. He’ll win in October. But Booker is now playing on a much larger field, and the T-Bone example shows he needs to be careful with what he says going forward.

Cory Booker, for serving up red meat to the opposition, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@washpost.com.

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