Booker Has Concerns over Hagel’s Comments on Gays and Israel

But says Obama deserves 'deference' on defense issues


Newark Mayor Cory Booker expressed concern Monday morning about comments made by former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel on openly gay ambassadorial nominee in 1998 and Israel, when prompted in an interview by Soledad O’Brien. Hagel will be announced Monday as President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense:

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Okay, Chuck Hagel, secretary of defense, what do you think?

CORY BOOKER: I trust the president. I think he has to focus on, most importantly, here, on defending the nation. I give him a lot of latitude for the decisions that he makes.

O’BRIEN: Do you worry about some of the things–the “Jewish lobby.” He didn’t say the Israel lobby– the Jewish lobby. He talked about a diplomat being “aggressively gay”–whatever that means– iran and sanctions.

BOOKER: I consider myself a strong advocate for equality issues and it’s something that hurts me deeply that I still live in a nation that has a second-class citizenship for people based on who they love. So, does it concern me, yes? Do I think that focusing on Israel actually is focusing on the security of the United States of america as our democratic partner in that region? Yeah, these are things that concern me. But I actually know the president.