New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker (D) on Wednesday said it was “sad” and “shocking” to hear his Republican opponent suggest "gay men are not men," calling the remarks a throwback to a more discriminatory era. 

GOP candidate Steve Lonegan, who is trailing Booker in New Jersey Senate polls, said it was “weird” that Booker would embrace speculation that he is gay as a way to combat homophobia.

Lonegan also speculated that Booker's comments could be a tactic to try and court the gay vote, adding that "as a guy, I personally like being a guy.”

The Republican candidate made the remarks after Booker told The Washington Post he was OK with speculation about his sexuality. 

Booker said Lonegan's comments were "unacceptable" and betrayed American values. 

“It is just disheartening to hear somebody in this day and age in the United States of America say basically that gay men are not men,” Booker said in an interview with Huffington Post Live.

Booker said masculinity should be measured by one’s kindness, courage of spirit and content of heart. 

“Instead he is challenging the masculinity of millions of Americans, and that is really unacceptable and that goes against everything I was taught about this country and what we stand for,” Booker said. 

In The Post interview earlier this week, Booker said it was wonderful that there was speculation about his sexuality.  

“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful,” Booker said. “Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’ ”

Lonegan, asked about Booker’s comments in a Newsmax interview, pointed to reports that Booker “likes to go out at 3 o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure.”

“It was described as his peculiar fetish,” Lonegan said. “I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar; that’s my fetish, but we’ll just compare the two.”