New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has distanced himself from anti-gay remarks made by Steve Lonegan, the Republican Senate candidate who Christie has endorsed. Lonegan speculated about the sexual orientation of his opponent, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), and implied that gay men are not real men.
"The fact of the matter is everybody in the world knows, because I’ve said it before, Steve Lonegan and I don’t agree on every issue, and I certainly won’t agree with every utterance that comes out of his mouth,” Christie said Wednesday, according to the Bergen Record.
Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota, N.J., is challenging Booker in the state's Oct. 16 special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
In a Washington Post profile published on Tuesday, Booker said he prefers to keep his romantic life private, and that he has no problem if people believe he may be gay.
“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,'" he said.
In an interview with Newsmax, Lonegan said he thought Booker's statement was "weird."
"As a guy, I personally like being a guy," Lonegan said. "I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure. ... I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar."
"The thought that what defines manhood is the drink that you drink or the cigar that you smoke -- I think that he just really misses the boat on what it means to be a man in America," Booker replied on Wednesday in an interview with HuffPost Live.
Lonegan adviser Rick Shaftan attempted to clarify his candidate's remarks with the Bergen Record, saying, "He's not really saying whether the guy’s gay or not,” Shaftan said. “We all know macho guys who are gay and we know feminine guys who are not gay. I think he was just referring to the pedicures."
Christie recently endorsed Lonegan, even though the two competed in a bitter primary for their party's gubernatorial nomination in 2009.
Christie on Wednesday also rejected Democrats' calls to drop his endorsement of Lonegan, comparing his support for the former mayor to the backing he had picked up from Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long (D).
"I'm sure she doesn’t agree with everything that comes out of my mouth, either," Christie said. "But what we do is we have an agreement on a core group of issues."
Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle politically, Christie and Booker have often worked together, and, according to The New York Times, appear to have a "genuine fondness" for one another.