Newark mayor and Democratic Senate candidate Cory Booker on Thursday responded to Republican rival Steve Lonegan's remarks that he thinks it's “weird” that Booker won't disavow rumors that he's gay.

Booker told The Washington Post that “some part of me thinks it's wonderful” that people think he's gay, because “I want to challenge people on their homophobia.”

In a telephone interview with Newsmax's Steve Malzberg, Lonegan described Booker's comments as “weird” for a guy.

“As a guy, I personally like being a guy,” said Lonegan, the former New Jersey head for the Koch Brother's Americans for Prosperity. “I don't know if you saw the stories last year, they've been out quite a bit, about how he likes to go out at 3 o'clock in the morning for a manicure and pedicure.”

He added: “Maybe that helps him get the gay vote, by acting ambiguous. Although, I don't like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of day, for manicures and pedicures. It was described as his peculiar fetish, is how it was described. 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.”

Appearing on MSNBC's All In, Booker told host Chris Hayes that he's “affirmed my sexual orientation numerous times over the years” and went after Lonegan for questioning his masculinity.

“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, if you're gay. I mean that is so extreme. Let's shine lights on this for a second. Understand that my father taught me what manhood is about. It's not about whether you play football or enjoy badminton. Being a man is about love, about kindness to others, about standing up for what's right, about doing what is important to do in the unfinished business of America.”

“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 being brought up again because of the behavior of my opponent.”

New Jersey will hold a special October 6 election to select which candidate will fill the seat left vacant by the June 6 death of Senator Frank Lautenberg.