All In   |  August 29, 2013

Cory Booker: ‘My sexuality is not an issue right now’

After comments from Republican New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, Newark Mayor and Democratic New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker talks with Chris Hayes about Booker’s own sexuality and whether it should even be an issue.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> kind of weird, as a guy i personally like being a guy. i mean, he -- i don't fknow if you saw the stories last year, out quite a bit about how he likes to go out at 3:00 in the morning for a manicure and pedicure. his peculiar fetish is how it's described. i have a more peculiar fetish. i like a good scotch and a cigar. that's my fetish. we'll compare the two.

>> that was republican candidate for senate steve lone fwrgan of new jersey questioning the masculinefy of his democratic opponent, cory booker . in response to an interview booker gave to the " washington post ." newark mayor expressing his wishes to keep his dating life private. how unfair is it for a young lady to put them in the spotlight? they haven't signed up for that yet. people think i'm gay, i want to challenge people on their homophobia. so what does it matter if i am? so be it. i hope you're not voting for me because you're making the assumption i'm straight. i asked mayor booker about lonegan's comments, the campaign an much more. i have to ask you about the campaign. you're running for senate. your republican opponent, steve lonegan , i'm going to editorialize for a moment. is acting pretty -- is acting a lot of nonsense in which he's questioning your masculinity, questioning whether you're gay or straight. i think you responded in a really great way basically saying, what the hell do you care, it doesn't make one bit of difference what kind of senator i would be. from perspective of the gay rights movement and progress we've seen for lgbt rights , coming out has been a huge morally important step to get the kind of acceptance we've seen. so my question is, if you are gay, why would you not just come out?

>> first of all, this is the ri ridiculousness of this point. the question should not be whether you're gay or straight, but question should be, why are you asking the question in the first place? it doesn't make a difference what kind of senator i'm going to be or not. what i'm simply saying now, we live in a nation of tragic injustice where we have said there's going to be a class of americans that are going to get second-class citizenship because of who they choose to love and the rest of us americans are going to enjoy full citizenship rights. these are germane issues to how i'm going to perform as a senator. this is what i find comical. my local press, i was talking to a local reporter who has been covering me for seven years saying there's no evidence including your protestations that's out there already, as i said to the reporter. he and i were talking. why is this coming up yet again of something that has been affirmed and talked about a lot. let me tell you why. you know, again, my opponent in this race is going to try to really replicate the worst of our national politics where we make a race about individuals and not the issues. and so this is a guy that's attacked --

>> let me stop you there. i want to push back from a left -- from a progressive perspective. this is being done in this gross way. from a progressive perspective, there's a connection between the political and personal. this has been the argument gay folks have been making since harvey milk and before, the connection between the political and personal is personally coming out has a very profound political effect. one does connect to the other because it creates a kind of seismic change of people's per percepti perception.

>> i have affirmed my sexual orientation over the years. people in my local press world know what that is. in some ways the fact you and i are having this conversation might be a little more frust ra rating. i really, really want to drive this home is we need to stop in america talking about anybody in a public realm besides what is important. content of their character. quality of their ideas. courage within their hearts to serve others. that's what's important. here we have an opponent trying to say god awful things. literally saying, i believe a guy should be a guy. almost like saying you are not a man, that you're not a man if you're gay. that is so extreme. let's shine lights on this for a second and understand that my father taught me what manhood is about. and it's not about whether you play football or enjoyed badminton. being a man is about love. about kindness to others. about standing up for what's right. about doing what's important to do in the unfinished business of america. so, again, my sexuality is not an issue right now. especially because it's been talked about by me for years before we get into a campaign that suddenly this issue is brought up again because of behavior of my opponent.

>> last question. why should barbara buono be the next governor of new jersey ?

>> please don't -- this is another example. let's get away from personalities. i'm friends with them. if you believe in these issues, marriage equality , woman's right to choose, that we should as new jersey be a part of regional greenhouse gas agreements, if you support planned parenthood and women's preventative care . if you believe that we should make massive investments in nfr information like the arch tunnel. if you're a believer we should not be cutting the earned income tax credit which raises taxes. if you look at the issues, forget the personalities, if these are the things you stand for, who are you going to choose? when you line up all the issues, for me, clearly barbara buono is the candidate to support and most in line with where new jersey stands. i'd like this campaign for the governor, three weeks after the october 16th senatorial --

>> governor gave you your own special election .

>> i feel very special with that. the reality is i'm really hoping my state, the state that i love, and we really focus on the issues in this election and really just do an issue chart of what's important to you from economic empowerment, from equity, from dealing with women's health care . line up the issues and vote on the issues, not the personalities.

>> cory booker , mayor of newark, new jersey. candidate for senate.

>> that is "all in" for this evening. "the " rachel maddow show" starts now.