An aide for New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan savaged Lonegan’s Democratic opponent Cory Booker to a reporter in an R-rated verbal attack, and said Booker's conduct has allowed Lonegan to make the race significantly closer.
Speaking with the political blog Talking Points Memo, senior Lonegan staffer Rick Shaftan said Booker has engaged in “odd” behavior, including exchanging tweets with a stripper in words that appeared “like what a gay guy would say.”
Shaftan told TPM that Booker’s statements would be very strange if they came from a straight man, and said it was highly unlikely Booker didn’t know about the many topless photos Lee has posted on Twitter.
“It’s like, ‘I don’t know who she is. I don’t know anything about her.’ Get the **** out of here, dude. You can’t follow her Twitter page and not know she’s got those great breasts. How do you ****ing not know?” Shaftan said.
Shaftan said Booker’s apparent lack of sexual interest in Lee may reflect something about his sexual orientation.
“If he said, ‘Hey, you got really hot breasts, man’…Then like, yeah, cool,” Sheftan said. “It was like kind of like, I don’t know, it was like what a gay guy would say to a stripper…It’s just like there was no sexual interest at all.”
Booker has dismissed criticism of his interactions with Lee by saying they merely reflect the time he spends on Twitter “engaging with people no matter what their profession.”
Lonegan himself has raised eyebrows in recent months for comments on Booker’s sexual orientation. In August, the former Bogota mayor said that Booker may be targeting the gay vote “by acting ambiguous” about his sexuality.
Shaftan said Booker’s Twitter escapades and vague comments about his sexuality are among the miscues that have allowed Lonegan to close the gap in the race between the two. While polls still show Booker with a sizeable lead, it has fallen significantly in the last month and Lonegan’s campaign has suggested their internal polls show the race is tied.
Shaftan also mocked other aspects of Booker's campaign, such as purchasing New York Daily News ads when "nobody ****ing reads [the Daily News] in New Jersey."
Silvia Alvarez, deputy communications director for Booker's campaign, responded:
"These comments are disgraceful, demeaning, and beneath even the incredibly low bar set by the Lonegan campaign thus far. If you want an insight into the kind of senator Lonegan would be, start here.”