NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner continues to insist he won’t drop his bid for mayor in spite of a sexting controversy that has consumed his campaign and sent his poll numbers plummeting.
“You’re stuck with me,” the former congressman told the Staten Island Advance in an interview.
Weiner said that his decision to weather the controversy instead of exiting the campaign is proof that he would be a strong mayor.
"I'm going to be a successful mayor because of it, because it's going to give me a level of independence," Weiner said. "I'm not constructing a campaign around the approval of my peers. I'm constructing a campaign around the aspirations of my neighbors."
The interview came as Danny Kedem, Weiner’s campaign manager, abruptly exited the campaign only days after it was revealed that the former lawmaker had continued to send sexual messages to women he met online even after a sexting controversy forced him out of Congress in June 2011.
Weiner admitted last week that he had sent lewd messages and pictures to at least three women after he left Congress but insisted his “personal failings” were now behind him. But the controversy has overshadowed his bid for mayor.
In recent days, Weiner has desperately sought to change the subject, holding events to tout post-Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts and his proposal to create a “nonprofit czar” to help facilitate financial aid from the city to worthy organizations.
But virtually every event has been overshadowed by questions about his personal behavior. At an event in Staten Island on Friday, he publicly squabbled with a retired schoolteacher who refused to shake his hand and called him unfit for office.
“Had I conducted myself in the manner in which you conducted yourself, my job would have been gone,” Peg Brunda told Weiner, according to the New York Post. “I don’t quite understand how you would feel you would have the moral authority as the head administrator in this city to oversee employees when your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that’s expected of us.”
“Are you not voting for me?” Weiner responded.
In his interview with the Staten Island Advance, Weiner admitted his campaign had been “derailed” by the latest revelations about his online behavior. But he pointed to the support he’s received from his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, as proof that he deserves a second chance. He said it bothers him to see her attacked over her decision to stand by him.
“She speaks from a position you don’t,” Weiner said. “She’s the victim here. The things I did, I did to her. She’s the one that’s uniquely in a position to say, ‘This was done to me.’ So it hurts to see her ridiculed like this.”
He added, “I’ll never stop being sorry to her and to the many people I compounded with it by being dishonest about it.”
But asked what he would tell his 18-month-year-old son, Jordan, about the scandal when he’s older, Weiner seemed almost blasé about his personal drama.
“First of all, the kid’s going to grow up in Gracie Mansion. So I am going to say, ‘Kid, don’t complain,” Weiner said.
He added, “I hope what he sees is the value of what I’m trying to do here. I hope he sees that I was a good mayor.”
On Monday, Weiner reiterated his determination to stay in the race in a fundraising email to supporters, in which he asked for donations to keep his campaign going.
"A lot of people who don’t have a vote, want to decide who our next mayor will be," Weiner wrote. "TV pundits, newspaper publishers and, of course, my opponents--they've all made up their minds that they want to stop our campaign right now. ...But this race isn't about them. It's about you. You should decide."