New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner advised reporters to focus on issues rather than him at a Thursday campaign appearance, saying, “campaigns are not about the candidates.”
Weiner attempted to stay on message when questioned again by reporters about the explicit photos and texts he exchanged with a young woman after his resignation from Congress at New York City’s Voces Latina Mayoral Candidate Forum in Jackson Heights. The forum focused on women’s issues in the Hispanic community. The event attracted as many reporters as actual attendees.
Weiner went after the media, saying, “I’ll be honest with you–and this is a mistake that members of the journalism class make all the time–campaigns are not about the candidates. It may look that way–our names may be on the ballot–but this is about New Yorkers and their dreams and aspirations.”
Sydney Leathers, the woman behind the latest sexting scandal with Weiner, gave an exclusive television interview to Inside Edition.
“It literally disgusts me. It makes me feel physically ill,” Leathers said in the interview when asked about his press conference earlier this week. “I’ve barely been able to eat since all of this happened. I feel sick about it. I’m disgusted by him. He’s not who I thought he was.”
Weiner remained apologetic as he responded to Leathers’s TV appearance at the candidates’ forum:
People are perfectly free–these women–look, as I said the first day I got in this race, I’m sure people may want to come forward and talk about this story. That’s their right to do. I’m not going to engage in it. They have a free rein to do it–they can say whatever it is they want. It’s their right. I will never do anything to disagree with them or to argue with them. I’m looking forward. I perfectly understand that my behavior was inappropriate and wrong. It dishonored my wife. I am grateful as long as the day is long that she has forgiven me and allowed me this second chance. “
Other candidates for the mayor’s race were seemingly annoyed that Weiner’s latest online revelry is distracting voters from issues of governance. Democratic candidate for mayor City Comptroller John Liu told reporters, “I think people know [Weiner] to be very eloquent and he speaks well and he speaks with passion, but at the end of the day, other things matter also.” Liu continued, “You have judgment. You have to have character also–basic decency.”
He added, “I spoke with some of the women on the way out–they’re still thinking about some graphic images that were made public this morning. It starts to weigh on the voters’ minds. It’s an issue that the voters will have to contend with. At the end of the day, it’s up to them to decide.”
Liu made it clear he did not see any of the explicit photos from Weiner’s chats that were recently published online. “I hope I never see the photos. Please don’t ever show me these things,” he said.
Weiner defended himself after the forum, telling reporters he was proud of the support that he has from New Yorkers. “I’m very proud that I have a campaign staff–eight people–and I think there’s only one white guy in the mix. It’s a diverse group,” he vaunted. “I’ve been talking about the need for health care that’s universal–single payer health care that would help an enormous number of women.”
Weiner further touted his history of support for abortion: “I’m proud that throughout my career in politics I’ve been leading the fight for women’s reproductive health and freedom. Look, I’m very proud of my record,” he declared. “It doesn’t mean that I’m a perfect person or a perfect messenger and I’m not saying that I’m a perfect person. I’m saying that I am the fighter that New York needs for the middle class and those struggling to make it.”
Republican candidate for mayor Sal Albanese did not buy Weiner’s remorse, telling the audience at the forum, “If you think Weiner is going to go the extra mile to protect women in this city, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.”