Newark Mayor Cory Booker was visibly caught off guard Monday night when, on MSNBC's "The Last Word," he was asked by host Lawrence O'Donnell about charges by an aide of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) that Booker had stolen Lautenberg's gun control policy initiatives and posed them as his own during his appearance Monday morning on "Morning Joe."
"I apologize, we had talked about it off the camera, I thought I was going to get a chance to talk about guns," Booker said in response to O'Donnell's query.
"We are going to do that," O'Donnell replied.
"Good, because this is really not an issue right now," Booker said. "This is 18 months away. It is a long time. All of New Jersey, we should not be talking about Senate races."
Booker refused to fully commit to a run, saying he would be happy to return and discuss it when he was sure. The remainder of the interview discussed gun control and relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy victims.
Booker has been sharply criticized by Democrats for his moves to run for the seat. A longtime ally, state Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, said the 88-year-old Lautenberg deserves "the respect" of deciding to retire in his own time.