Speaking publicly for the first time since Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker signaled interest in running for his Senate seat, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) likened the up-and-coming liberal darling to a naughty child.
"I have four children, I love each one of them. I can't tell (you) that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK," Lautenberg said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The senior senator turns 89 this week. He declined to tell The Philadelphia Inquirer if he would run again in 2014, when he is up for re-election.
Booker announced in late December his intention to explore a run for Senate. He has been criticized for not delaying his announcement until after Lautenberg made a decision about retiring.
“This guy is self-absorbed and disrespectful,” an anonymous Lautenberg adviser told Politico.
In a recent poll, New Jersey Democrats preferred Booker for senator by a more than 2-to-1 margin over Lautenberg.
Asked about a Booker candidacy, Lautenberg said he was "entitled to do it" but warned that he would face competition.
"He'll have to stand on his record and I'm sure he won't be a lone soldier out there drooling at the mouth and wanting this cushy job that we have here," he said.