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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Pressure was mounting Wednesday on Anthony Weiner to leave the field of combat in the mayoral race, but the former congressman said once again he will do no such thing.
As CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported, the determined politician reiterated that he is not budging – despite admitting to a new sexting scandal that happened after he claimed therapy had cured him.
As 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported, Weiner was back on the campaign trail Wednesday night, along with several other mayoral candidates, at a candidates’ night at Bronx Community College.
The candidates mostly stayed on issues such as education and public housing, except twice. Once, another candidate asked Weiner about revelations that the sexting scandal did not end when he left Congress.
“If you want to play to the cameras, that’s your ability,” Weiner snapped back. “I’m here having a serious conversation about issues.”
The other instance was in the lightning round, when candidates were asked questions such as “iPhone or BlackBerry,” or “Facebook or Twitter.” As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Weiner said the campaign is on Twitter, and afterward reiterated that he is talking to voters about the issues.
Also Wednesday, Weiner issued an e-mail letter to his supporters, emphasizing that he believes the focus should be on his campaign and what the 64 ideas to “fight for the middle class” that he has been touting.
He wrote that had to explain since they had provided “fresh fodder” to those who want him out of the race.
“Sending these embarrassing messages to women online, whom I never met, was a personal failing that was hurtful to my wife and a part of my life that Huma and I have put behind us,” he wrote. “These things I did, as you have read in the papers, didn’t happen once. It was a terrible mistake that I unfortunately returned to during a rough time in our marriage. After a lot of reflection, some professional help, and a general reorientation of my life, Huma has given me a second chance. I will never stop being grateful for that.”
But Weiner wrote that even though he is ashamed of his actions, “the bottom line is that the ‘news’ today is about my past life.”
He wrote that the city’s issues and the needs of the middle class should be the focus of the mayoral race, and he will be staying in the race to focus on them.
“New Yorkers don’t quit, and I’ll never quit on you,” Weiner wrote.
Earlier in the day, Weiner made much the same points as he spoke with reporters outside his apartment building. In doing so, he made it sound as though it was just another day on the campaign trail.
“I’m going to head over to the campaign office, I got some calls to make. I’ve got to prepare for a couple of candidate forums tonight on some important issues,” he said. “And I’m also working on the second edition of my ideas book, for ideas for the middle class and those struggling to make it.”
Weiner was asked point-blank about the growing chorus of calls for him to drop out of the race.
“You know, there have been people since the moment I got into this race who didn’t want me to run,” Weiner said. “There have been people who didn’t want me to run at the very beginning. You know, but, a lot of people have been crying out for someone to talk about issues important to the middle class. A lot of the same people who weren’t crazy about me running in the first place now want me to get out, including my opponents, who I am sure didn’t want me in the race in the first place.”
Weiner was asked about whether character is an issue in the mayoral race.
“That’s for citizens to decide. Everyone has to decide. Look, I know there are people who may well never conceive of voting for me because of the things that are in my past, I get that,” said Weiner.
Weiner denied that the disclosure of sexting exchanges that took place after he resigned from Congress changed the nature of the scandal.
“The conversation in this campaign has been the same since the very beginning: That I have things in my background that I’ve talked about that are legitimate for people to discuss. They’re behind me and I’ve been trying to talk about ideas for the middle class and those struggling to make it, and people who have been on the campaign trail have watched how people have responded to that. This is not just about me. This is about the city and the aspirations of people to make things better.”
Weiner acknowledged his strategy may strike some as unconventional.
“I have posited this whole campaign on a bet. And that is that citizens at the end of the day are more interested in the challenges they face in their lives than anything that I have done embarrassing in my past,” Weiner said. “You know, I’m fine. I’ve got an amazing wife and child upstairs, a comfortable life. This is not about me. This is about the fact in the middle class people are struggling to make it in this city. They can’t find housing they can afford, jobs with benefits, their education system isn’t… this is what I try to talk about every day.”
“These things are in my past, and I think citizens understand that,” Weiner said finally, before jumping into a sport-utility vehicle and leaving.