Booker: NJ rival's comment on sexuality 'bigoted

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Democratic Mayor Cory Booker on Wednesday accused his U.S. Senate race rival of making bigoted comments when asked about a newspaper article in which Booker ambiguously addressed his sexuality.

Republican Steve Lonegan said on Steve Malzberg's Newsmax talk show that it's strange Booker won't refute long-simmering rumors that he's gay.

"It's kind of weird. As a guy I personally like being a guy," said Lonegan, who referenced a 2012 interview in which Booker said he "likes to go out at 3 o'clock in the morning for a manicure and pedicure."

Lonegan's comments came after a Washington Post profile in which Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, said he keeps his romantic life private because it's "unfair to a young lady to put them in the spotlight" if they're not ready for it. Booker then brought up gossip, which has been swirling since he first ran for mayor in 2002, that he's gay.

"And people who think I'm gay, some part of me thinks that's wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia," Booker told the newspaper for Monday's profile. "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, a former Bogota mayor, said he didn't read the profile and doesn't know if Booker is straight or gay.

"Maybe that helps to get him the gay vote, by acting ambiguous," Lonegan said.

Booker's team shot back Wednesday, saying Lonegan's comments were narrow-minded.

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