NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner predicted he would survive the sexting scandal that has overwhelmed his campaign for mayor, insisting that voters are more interested in “ideas” than his personal life.
But in an interview with the New York Daily News, the Democratic mayoral hopeful offered a vague answer when asked whether he is “sexting” with anyone now and admitted he didn’t know if more communications with women he met online would be made public between now and the Sept. 10 primary.
“These are people who I thought were friends, people I trusted when I communicated with them. But who knows what they might do now,” Weiner told the Daily News. “But none of it is new. It's all old stuff. So I'll be in this race for at least the next 44 days. And I think I can win.”
Asked directly if there was anyone “you are sexting now,” Weiner offered a less than definitive answer.
“You can quibble about beginnings, middles and ends, but what we're talking about is over a year ago,” Weiner replied.
The former congressman again refused to quit the race and said he wasn’t listening to chatter from his rivals and pundits who have encouraged him to drop out. Asked about stories suggesting Bill and Hillary Clinton, who are close to his wife, Huma Abedin, are anxious for him to leave the race, Weiner insisted he didn’t care.
“I don't pay much attention to outsiders who want to say what this campaign should be about,” Weiner replied. “There are going to be maelstroms, controversies and crises when I'm mayor. That doesn't mean I'm going to curl up in a corner and not go out that day. I'm going to lead. If you want to run this town, you have to be prepared to have people say tough things about you.”
But while he insisted he and his wife have moved on from his personal behavior, Weiner admitted it’s been difficult to have the subject come up again and said it was “unfair” for people to attack his wife for things he did.
“It's hard, because remember that what's at the foundation of all this is something that I did to my wife,” Weiner said. “So it's very hard to have it come back no matter how much we might have expected it. It’s hard to be reminded how much dishonor I brought upon not just myself but especially my wife.”
He added, “You must remember this isn't something that happened yesterday. For us, this is an issue that's over a year old. And we'd gotten to this really great place with each other and we'd put it behind us to a place where we felt comfortable enough to move ahead to run for mayor. For us, this was a distant event. That doesn't change the fact that it's very hard to have it come up again.”
Still, Weiner said his wife was “committed” to his mayoral bid and would likely campaign for him between now and the primary. And the former lawmaker predicted he would ultimately survive the scandal, even if other women make their communications with him public.
“I have a sense that I am different than the other people running,” Weiner said. “I’m running a different kind of campaign. I believe at the end of the day New Yorkers want to make this decision for themselves. They are more interested in ideas that affect their lives than my private life.”
He added, “I can tell you this: No other candidate in this race is getting tested like this. But I'm still talking about important issues no matter how difficult it is to get them out. I'm fighting for the middle class every day. Having 200 cameras around me in a senior center is not going to stop me from saying what I have to say. People can see how I can deal with pressure as mayor. I'm under pressure now and I'm gonna show them that I handle it head on.”