Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who was forced out of office after he was busted sexting with women who were not his wife, says he’s considering a run for New York City mayor this year.
In an interview with the New York Times magazine, Weiner, who resigned under pressure in 2011, says he wants a “second chance” from voters and calls the upcoming mayoral race a case of “now or maybe never for me.”
“I don’t have this burning, overriding desire to go out and run for office,” Weiner tells the Times in an interview posted online early Wednesday. “It’s not the single animating force in my life as it was for quite some time. But I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something. I’m trying to gauge not only what’s right and what feels comfortable right this second, but I’m also thinking, how will I feel in a year or two years or five years? Is this the time that I should be doing it? And then there’s the other side of the coin, which is ... am I still the same person who I thought would make a good mayor?”
Weiner added, "I want to ask people to give me a second chance. I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down and with people who put their faith in me and who wanted to support me. I think to some degree I do want to say to them, ‘Give me another chance.’”
But Weiner’s interview—his first major sit-down since being ousted from office two years ago—seems to contradict his claim that he doesn’t have a “burning desire” to run for public office. It comes only weeks after word that he’d spent $100,000 polling New York City voters about whether they would accept him again. And in a sign of how serious he is, the Times article also includes comments from Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who married Weiner in 2010 who is not known for readily talking to reporters.
In the interview, Abedin recalls when her husband first told her of the brewing scandal, in which he was busted for sending lewd photos of himself to women he met on the Internet.
“Anthony said, ‘I have something to tell you. I can’t lie to you anymore. It’s true. It’s me. The picture is me. I sent it. Yes, these stories about the other women are true.’ And it was every emotion that one would imagine: rage and anger and shock. But more than anything else, in the immediate, it was disbelief,” Abedin tells the Times. “The thing that I consciously remember saying over and over and over again is: ‘I don’t understand. What is going on? What’s happening to our lives?’”
Two days after her husband held a press conference to admit the stories about his sexting were true, Abedin was on a plane to Abu Dhabi with Clinton when she says she broke down sobbing. Asked about whether Clinton—who stood by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, after he admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a former White House intern—offered her advice, Abedin suggests she did, but declines to say exactly what.
“We’ve had a lot of personal conversations, none of which I feel comfortable talking about. But what I will say about her, and for that matter her entire family, the unconditional love and support they have given me has been a real gift,” Abedin says. “And I think she would be OK with me saying this, because I know she has said this before: At the end of the day, at the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make that are right for her and not be judged by it.”
Abedin says she’s forgiven her husband, and both she and Weiner took great lengths to emphasize that after much counseling, he’s a changed man—more focused on their marriage and raising their 15-month-old son, Jordan.
Weiner says he has no timeline for when he’ll make a final decision about his possible mayoral bid. But he’d enter the race as a financial front-runner, thanks to more than $4 million he raised for a possible mayoral bid in 2009.