Weiner Admits Explicit Texting After House Exit
Weiner: Timeline of Apologies: Anthony D. Weiner’s latest reaction to scandal comes after two years spent apologizing for explicit statements online and maintaining he has changed for the better.
By DAVID W. CHEN and JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
Published: July 23, 2013
Anthony D. Weiner’s improbable campaign for mayor was engulfed on Tuesday by a new scandal involving explicit online messages, imperiling his political resurrection two years after he resigned from Congress over similar behavior.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Anthony D. Weiner during a mayoral forum on H.I.V. and AIDS at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Headquarters.
Mr. Weiner, appearing solemn and a bit worn as he faced more than 100 journalists at a hastily arranged news conference, acknowledged that his habit of sending sexual images and text messages to female fans had continued for more than a year after he left Congress vowing to seek treatment and change his behavior.
“It’s in our rearview mirror, but it’s not far,” he said.
The revelation collides with the narrative Mr. Weiner has offered throughout the campaign, in which he has repeatedly suggested that he has spent his time since leaving Congress rehabilitating himself and repairing his family relationships. After a late entry into the Democratic primary, he had rapidly risen in the polls, and performed strongly in fund-raising, as his relentless focus on ideas and his omnipresence helped ease the concerns of many voters.
On Tuesday, seeming to recognize the fragility of his public standing, he pleaded with New Yorkers to trust his assertions that he is now a changed man, despite the news that his online adventures — some conducted under the pseudonym of Carlos Danger — had persisted through last summer, after the birth of his child.
Speaking amid the cramped cubicles of a vacant Chelsea office, Mr. Weiner, alternately chastened and defiant, vowed to press ahead with his campaign. His wife, Huma Abedin, stood by his side, at times smiling at him, but at times staring at the floor or at the cabinets behind her.
Publicly airing the couple’s private pain, Ms. Abedin said her decision to stay with Mr. Weiner was “not an easy choice,” and said, “Anthony’s made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after.”
“We discussed all of this before Anthony decided he would run for mayor, so really what I want to say is, I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him,” she added.
Ms. Abedin, a longtime close aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, spoke haltingly about the ups and downs of her marriage, making it clear that reconciling with Mr. Weiner after the scandal was a long and difficult process. “It took a lot of work, and a whole lot of therapy, to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony,” she said, reading from a prepared text that she slowly unfolded at the lectern.
The news startled his aides and prompted three of his rivals in the mayoral campaign — Bill de Blasio and Sal F. Albanese, both Democrats, and John A. Catsimatidis, a Republican — to demand that he drop out.
“Enough is enough,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters at a news conference on a Chelsea street corner. “His presence in this race continues to diminish the debate, and it’s time for his presence in this race to end.”
The National Organization for Women in New York City also called on Mr. Weiner to drop out, calling him “clearly and compellingly unfit for public office.”
Mr. Weiner was undeterred, saying simply, “I’m sure many of my opponents would like me to drop out of the race.” He went straight from the news conference to a forum on H.I.V. and AIDS issues, arriving late, as usual, and smiling as he was greeted with a warm round of applause. He told the audience that many voters might be turned off by the mistakes he made, but he emphasized his credentials as an outsider, saying he was the only candidate in the race who would “shake things up.”
“I admit it: there are a lot of people who probably listen to me and say, ‘You know what, you’re not a very good messenger for these things,’ ” he said. “I don’t dispute it.”
As he spoke passionately about issues like housing, gay rights and health care, distinguishing himself from his rivals by rising from his chair and gesticulating forcefully, the audience responded warmly, with shouts of “Yes, that’s right!” and “You the man!”