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.
Fellow Candidates, Newspapers To Weiner – Drop Out Now
Many of Weiner’s opponents – as well as the city’s major newspapers – have called on him to quit the race after additional sexting messages surfaced Tuesday like the one that destroyed his congressional career.
At the Bronx Community College mayoral forum, other candidates — including fellow Democrat and city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — said Weiner is distracting people from the issues.
“We cannot have a serious debate on the issues facing us so long as this sideshow continues,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio said if Weiner wants to do the right thing, he needs to step aside.
“I think he has to step aside for the good of New York City,” de Blasio said.
Democratic candidate Bill Thompson echoed de Blasio’s points.
“This has become a distraction and a continual distraction, and it is getting worse,” Thompson said. “You say it’s a distraction – should he withdraw? Consensus has emerged that Anthony should not run.”
Democratic candidate and city Comptroller John Liu stopped short of saying Weiner should quit the race.
“I haven’t said he should withdraw. I think anyone can and should run,” he said. “But the issue of him taking pictures of himself — I think that’s valid issue for voters to consider.”
Liu earlier referred to the photos Weiner has taken as “pornographic selfies.”
Democratic candidate the Rev. Erick Salgado also slammed Weiner for the use of the name “Carlos Danger.”
On Tuesday, Democratic candidate and former City Councilman Sal Albanese was the first to ask Weiner to drop out.
“He’s done it again,” Albanese said. “How many times can you mislead people?”
“I think that there is a consensus that is forming across New York that Anthony Weiner should not run and I think it is important for him to put the people of the city of New York first, and not himself. So yes, I would say he should not run,” Thompson told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Wednesday.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, also a leading mayoral candidate, released a statement Wednesday that stopped just short of calling for Weiner to get out of the race.
“The circus that Mr. Weiner has brought to the mayor’s race these last two months has been a disservice to New Yorkers who are looking for someone who has the judgment and maturity to lead this City and a record of actually delivering real results for them,” Quinn said. “Being the Mayor of New York is serious business and it demands a serious leader. Instead we have seen a pattern of reckless behavior, consistently poor judgment, and difficulty with the truth. New Yorkers deserve something completely different: they deserve a mayor who has the judgment, maturity, record, and vision to lead this City.”
Republican candidate John Catsimatidis also said Weiner should go.
“The Mayor of New York City should be a leader that all the residents of our city, especially our children, can look up to,” Catsimatidis said in a statement. “Anthony Weiner should do what is right for his family and our city and drop out of the race for mayor so we can end this soap opera.”
In an editorial posted online Tuesday, The New York Times said, “the serially evasive” Weiner “should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.”
In an editorial Wednesday, the Daily News said: “He is not fit to lead America’s premier city. Lacking the dignity and discipline that New York deserves in a mayor, Weiner must recognize that his demons have no place in City Hall.”
A Breakdown Of The Latest Allegations
First published by the gossip website “The Dirty,” the new disclosures came from a woman who said she was 22 when she began an online relationship with Weiner. Site editor Nik Ritchie wrote that the woman claimed Weiner and the woman “had a relationship for six months, and she believed they were in love.”
The website published a series of graphic exchanges about imagined sex acts between Weiner and the woman – using explicit terms for genitals and sex acts. The new disclosures included two graphic photos — one pixelated, the other partially censored by the Web site with a chain of pink hearts.
The woman said Weiner exchanged nude photos of himself with her, engaged in phone sex with her, promised to help her get a job at the political website Politico and suggested meeting in a Chicago condo for a tryst.
The woman said her relationship with Weiner “fizzled” in November 2012. She said she last heard from him this past April, when a New York Times Magazine profile revealed he was eyeing a mayoral run.
Weiner said not every allegation the woman made was true but that he was not going to dispute specific claims. The lawyer for The Dirty’s founder, Nik Richie, said his client was ill and would not comment Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Weiner admitted sending sexually explicit photos and messages as recently as last summer, more than a year after he resigned from the House because of similar behavior with at least a half-dozen women.
The narrative of scandals surrounding Weiner began on May 27, 2011, when a shot of Weiner’s crotch surfaced. At the time, he claimed his Twitter account was hacked.
It took 10 days – until June 6 – for Weiner to own up to having inappropriate online exchanges with women. Ten days after that, he resigned from Congress.
In December 2011, Weiner’s son was born. Six months later on July 18, 2012, he gave the first interview of his rehabilitation campaign, saying he had changed his sexting ways.
But that same month was when he reportedly began talking to the 22-year-old woman interviewed by “The Dirty,” and in August 2012, the sexting began with Weiner using the sobriquet “Carlos Danger.”
Weiner first addressed the latest exchanges with his wife Huma Abedin at his side Tuesday.
Speaking in front of cameras about the issue for the first time Tuesday, Abedin said her husband had made some “horrible mistakes both before he resigned from Congress and after” but insisted she and her husband discussed “all of this” before he jumped into the mayor’s race in May.
Seeming a bit choked with emotion, she noted that she had chosen to stay in the marriage, but “it was not an easy choice.”
“I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him. And as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward,” she said.
Weiner said in a July 2, 2012, interview with People magazine that he’d “tried to become a better person” every day since the sexting scandal. And yet the latest indiscretion appears to have started just days after he gave that interview.
Will Voters Be Willing To Give Weiner Another Chance?
Weiner, 48, has been near the top of most polls since his late entry into the race in May. But a new Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday that was taken before the latest scandal had both Thompson and Quinn beating Weiner in a runoff.
Either way, the latest disclosures could severely test voters’ willingness to forgive him.
“It makes it tougher to believe this is behind him,” said Democratic former state Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, now a political consultant.
And some voters who were open-minded about a second chance may not be able to stomach a third.
“He had a chance to redeem himself and if he did it twice, he really betrayed the public’s trust again,” Jeremy Green said. “I think he’s past the point of no return.”
But as CBS 2’s Schneider reported, some voters remained squarely in Weiner’s corner Wednesday.
“Give him another chance. Give him another shot,” said Darryl Blue of Harlem. “We all make mistakes.”
“If I, in life, expect to ever get a second chance, I have to be willing to give a second chance,” added Eric Turner of Harlem, “so he has my vote.”
“People learn from their mistakes,” said Jazine Giamarco of Harlem. “You can’t hold the past on anybody. Everybody is entitled to a second chance.”
But just blocks away on the Upper West Side, voters were just as dug into their views – saying it is simply time for Weiner to go.
“Honestly, I don’t feel like I could trust him — and I’m a registered Democrat,” said Robbianit Mackin.
“He is finished. I think his wife should start walking,” said Suzanne Kratak of the Upper West Side. “How much can you ask of New Yorkers? This man has cooked his own goose.”
“I was never fully on board, but that tipping point, I was thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll go there,’” added Jimmy Schatz of the Upper West Side. “This just tipped it to the side of, ‘No thank you. No way.’”
In Forest Hills, Queens, in Weiner’s former congressional district, some gave the thumbs up.
“I love Anthony Weiner. I think he should continue, and I think he will make a great mayor,” one voter said. “I think what he does in his personal life, he does in his personal life.“
But still others said the latest sordid revelations were just too much.
“He’s lied too many times,” said Andrew Blitz. “I never liked him the first time around. He’s sleazy. This seals it for me.”
In announcing his run for mayor this past spring, Weiner admitted to “making mistakes and letting many people down.”
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com:
- Parachutist Hurt During Fleet Week Demonstration Near Liberty State Park
- Woman Slashed Aboard Subway In Midtown Manhattan, Police Say
- Officials: Sheriff’s Deputy Among Eight Dead In Shooting Rampage In Rural Mississippi
- Grilling Tips For This Year’s Memorial Day Cookout
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)