Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman turned New York City mayoral candidate, rejected calls to quit the campaign after revelations that he sent more sex texts and a lewd photo of himself to a woman over the Internet after the scandal that drove him from office in 2011.
Democratic rivals Sal Albanese and Bill de Blasio, joined by Republican John Catsimatidis, called on Weiner to end his City Hall bid after the TheDirty.com, a gossip website, said his behavior continued well after he publicly vowed to change it.
“I’m sure many of my opponents would like me to drop out of the race,” Weiner said yesterday at a news briefing in Manhattan. He said he would remain a mayoral candidate.
TheDirty.com posted exchanges between a woman and a man it said was Weiner, 48, who left the House of Representatives after lewd pictures sent to women surfaced. The latest explicit photo was sent by a user called “Carlos Danger,” the website said.
“While some things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong,” Weiner said in a statement issued yesterday. “This behavior is behind me.”
The e-mail correspondence with the woman began in July 2012 when she was 22 and continued for months, according to TheDirty.com. The woman provided the information on the condition that she not be identified, the website said. At the news briefing, Weiner reminded reporters that he had said before that not everything about his past behavior had been revealed.
“I said other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” Weiner said at the briefing. His wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, stood at his side.
Abedin, who has appeared at rallies and parades for her husband, spoke to reporters for the first time since he entered the mayoral contest May 22.
“Anthony has made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after,” Abedin said. “I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
Weiner leads the pack of seven Democratic mayoral candidates with support from 25 percent of registered party members, compared with 22 percent for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, with 21 percent undecided, according to a July 15 Quinnipiac University poll. He was the last to enter the race ahead of the Sept. 10 primary.
The scandal that ended Weiner’s 12-year congressional career began May 27, 2011, when a close-up photograph of a man’s torso clad in gray boxer briefs showed up on his public Twitter Inc. web page. Weiner said during a news briefing at his Washington office that his account had been hacked.
His resignation came after he told reporters later that he had engaged in “inappropriate conversations” with six women over the previous three years, including by e-mail, telephone and on the Facebook Inc. and Twitter websites.
In one exchange posted by TheDirty.com, “Carlos Danger” describes how he would walk into a hotel room to find the woman naked and waiting for him on a bed. In another, he imagines himself joining her in the shower.
“I’ve found the perfect woman, gorgeous, sexy and like a bit of my crazy,” the message says.
“I basically worship the ground you walk on,” she responded. “You’re incredible.”
Six Democratic candidates had been campaigning for about a year when Weiner unexpectedly joined the race and shot to the top of the pack. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is barred by law from seeking a fourth term.
Among those running is Comptroller John Liu, a Democrat who said that the timing of Weiner’s latest correspondence matters.
“It’s one thing if more photos are revealed from before he resigned,” Liu said yesterday in an interview as he emerged from a meeting on city finances in Manhattan. “It’s a whole different ballgame and just would be utterly shocking if they were photos taken after he had resigned two years ago.”
City Councilman Albanese and Public Advocate de Blasio seized on the latest revelations about Weiner.
“From the moment he entered the race, I’ve said that Tony Weiner was unfit to serve as mayor of our great city,” Albanese said yesterday in a statement. “I’m calling for Anthony Weiner to do right by New Yorkers and withdraw from the race.”
Catsimatidis, a billionaire grocery-store chain owner making his first bid for elective office, echoed Albanese.
“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. 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.”
Their calls for Weiner to quit were joined by The New York Times, the Daily News and the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, which called him “unfit for public office” and said he’s a distraction. In editorials, the News said Weiner is a liar and has a “dishonest, impulse-driven psyche” while the Times described him as “serially evasive.”
While Weiner appealed to New Yorkers to forgive his past behavior, voters may not be willing to do that, Robert Shapiro, who teaches politics at Columbia University, said by telephone.
“It would appear that his behavior, if not pathological, it’s at least bad judgment, and voters will take this as a sign he’s not trustworthy,” Shapiro said. “He gave the impression that everything was in the past and not something he did after he resigned. In an election in a crowded field, maybe he could squeak out a No. 2 finish, but in a general election this revelation would be fatal.”
Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor emeritus at Hunter College in Manhattan, said Weiner’s latest revelations may hurt the electoral chances of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as well. Spitzer, a Democrat, entered the race for city comptroller July 7, opposing Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Spitzer resigned as governor in March 2008 after a prostitution scandal.
“There may be some spillover for Spitzer in a sense that people might think that if one candidate who apologizes can’t keep it in his pants, then why think that another one can,” Sherrill said. “It undermines the credibility of candidates who are on apology tours.”
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