By Lara Seligman - 08/30/13 11:56 AM EDT
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) on Thursday condemned comments made by his rival in the New Jersey Senate race about homosexuality, saying it was "god-awful" for a politician to question the masculinity of gay men.
“And so, here we have an opponent that is trying to say god-awful things, literally saying, ‘Well, I believe a guy should be a guy,’ almost like saying that you are not a man, you are not a man if you’re gay. I mean, that is so extreme. Let’s shine lights on that for a second.”
In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post 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.’”
Booker’s GOP rival, Steve Lonegan, called Booker’s comments “weird,” and speculated that the remarks could be a tactic to try and court the gay vote.
"As a guy, I personally like being a guy," Lonegan told Newsmax.
Lonegan 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.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Booker Thursday night why, if he were gay, he did not “just come out?”
“I have affirmed my sexual orientation numerous times over the years," Booker said.
Booker added his sexuality is beside the point.
“Well, first of all, this is the ridiculousness of this point,” Booker replied.
“The question really should not be whether I’m gay or straight; the question should be why the heck are you asking the question in the first place? It doesn’t make a whit of difference at what kind of senator I’m going to be or not.”