Weiner Stays In Mayoral Race, Despite Calls To Drop Out
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. In New York City, former Congressman Anthony Weiner vows to carry on his mayoral campaign in the face of plummeting poll numbers and calls for him to quit. Weiner is once again in the midst of a storm over his explicit use of social media and sexting with young women. National figures like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Obama advisor David Axelrod have called his behavior absurd.
His opponents call him a distraction. But Weiner says he wants voters to decide, even though the latest Quinnipiac poll puts him in fourth place. From member station WNYC, here's Brigid Bergin.
BRIGID BERGIN, BYLINE: Every day, reporters ask Anthony Weiner about the future of his campaign. Now, voters are asking the same thing.
ANTHONY WEINER: Tell me your name, Madam.
PEG BRUNDA: My name is Peg Brunda(ph).
WEINER: I'm Anthony Weiner, very nice to see you.
BERGIN: Brunda was waiting for the candidate after a precedent in Staten Island on Friday. A retiree of the city's public school system, she says a teacher would lose their job for doing what Weiner did.
BRUNDA: I don't quite understand how you would feel you would have the moral authority as the head administrator in the city to oversee employees when your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that's expected of us.
WEINER: Are you not voting for me?
BRUNDA: I would not vote for you, sir.
WEINER: Okay. I certainly understand that. But I want to let other people make the decision for themselves. Fair enough?
BRUNDA: I understand that, but you...
WEINER: Thank you.
BERGIN: Weiner says he's staying in the race, even though his campaign manager quit over the weekend and his wife, who publicly defended him last week, has been absent from the campaign trail since. Huma Abedin is an aid to Hillary Clinton, which has many asking, what if the Clinton's asking to bow out? Weiner deflected that question at a mayoral forum in the Bronx last night.
WEINER: I am not terribly interested in what people who are not voters in the city of New York have to say. I am focused like a laser beam on their interests. I'm focused like a laser beam on what they care about.
BERGIN: In the Quinnipiac poll, where Weiner sank to fourth place, 65 percent say his admitted sexting and accompanying photos is the campaign issue they care about.
JACK JELLINCK: He's a joke. He's a disgrace to every normal person in the world.
BERGIN: Seventy-five year old Jack Jellinck was having lunch at the El Greco Diner in Weiner's old congressional district.
JELLINCK: It's par for the course. I mean, the guy's crazy. There's no question about it. I mean, who does something like that? Who exposes himself? I mean, do you know anyone normal that does that?
BERGIN: Did you ever support him? Did you support him...
JELLINCK: Yeah. I know him, as a matter of fact. I know him from when he was the congressman from this district and he was very effective.
BERGIN: His lunch companion, Mary Valva(ph), had been excited about Weiner's campaign.
MARY VALVA: I don't know what he was thinking when he came back and was going to run 'cause I was going to vote for him until the second incident came out. And that's only because it was so recent. But you should've never ever put yourself out there for the public when you've done it again.
BERGIN: This was the overwhelming response from diners, except for 66-year-old Barbara Kafah, who says Weiner still has her support as another diner chimed in.
BARBARA KAFAH: Well, everybody's worried about what he's doing personally. I mean, do you care? Do you care?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No. That's between him and his wife. I really, really believe it's between him and his wife. That has nothing to do with us.
BERGIN: But Kafah had to qualify her endorsement.
KAFAH: He's not the guy you want to be texting, but as far as mayor, he's the best man for the job.
BERGIN: For NPR News, I'm Brigid Bergin in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.