Flabbergasted after yet another former sexting partner for Anthony Weiner has gone public recently, “his campaign is on life support” was perhaps the most sympathetic and honest assessment I could initially offer on television.
Yet there I was Friday afternoon, sitting next to Weiner for the RNN-TV interview with the Weiner for Mayor signs behind him, him telling me with a straight face that he was going to win the Democratic primary for mayor. In his words, it might take a run-off (If none of the candidates reach 40 percent of the vote), but Weiner declared he was still going to win. Weiner seems like with all the stress; he’s dropped a few pounds recently, but he was even talking transition team and governing.
Sure, just a few short days ago it appeared Weiner had a shot at the successful route of Mark Sanford from South Carolina, a second chance from the voters, and public opinion polls were leaning his way, with Weiner as the actual frontrunner. However now, words like delusional are being used to describe Weiner.
I threw out the word delusional with him, and Weiner just kept talking with a straight face, a man on a mission.
“This election is about voters, not gotcha questions about a candidate on the ropes…. I’m a flawed person…”
Weiner is in the fight of his life, but quickly continued his answer. He was still on the stump during our interview discussing the highly controversial NYPD practice of “Stop and Frisk.”
“Hundreds of thousands stopped, walking down the street, just because they are a person of color and they want to know how is the white guy going to respond.”
To walk around Weiner’s 5th Avenue campaign headquarters in Manhattan, up on the 11th floor, one gets the sense, and I’m almost afraid to say it, but the feeling of a regular successful campaign. There were about 40-50 volunteers there working to get out the vote. There wasn’t doom and gloom present on their faces. But at the same time, I didn’t see any newspapers around where the tabloids have been having a field day at Weiner’s expense.
The biggest punchline these days is Anthony Weiner. He’s the never-ending gift for late night TV, his poll numbers are in a free-fall and lately he has to keep his apology on robo-dial for his indiscretions as new sex emails have emerged.
There is consistency however.
The repeated call for Weiner to drop out of the race.
Here’s what he told me during the interview.
Look I’m going to win this race. Any conversation on who comes in 2nd, 2rd, or 4th, is really for the pundits, but not for me.
I had to stop him at that point: “Mr. Weiner do you really believe in your heart your going to win this campaign?”
Yes! Weiner responded.
I asked Weiner: “So are you telling us there is no way your dropping out?”
Weiner: “No sir. No sir.”
Carter: “None! No matter what the Clintons say. No matter what house minority leader Nancy Pelosi. says!”
Weiner: “Well, the Clintons haven’t said anything to me. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t get an opportunity to vote in this election. Frankly I’m trying to win the votes of NYC folks and if you want to be the darling of the national chattering class, you’ve got the wrong candidate. That’s not my objective. My objective is to be there fighting for middle class people who need housing opportunities, good jobs, who want a school system that is better. That’s who I’m interested in. You turn on the Sunday shows, you’ve got David Axelrod who works for works for one of my opponents, his firm works for Bill DeBlasio, he’s self-interested. You have someone else who claims to speak for the Clintons, then she has to reveal she hasn’t spoken to them in years.”
But one has to wonder if the worst is past Mr. Weiner. Is it possible that might there be more to surface?
Weiner’s timeline for when he finally stopped sending the lewd messages keeps changing. Weiner has been telling the media he stopped last August, but now the answer is changing to September.
“A year or so,” Weiner told me when asked the timeline question.
“I erased them all. But this last person that came out said the end of August. That sounds about right to me. That’s the memory my wife has also.”
But later in the interview, I simply followed up, and that’s when the timeline changed yet again.
“You said the last emails that you sent, like that, were a year ago?” I asked.
“I don’t have any of the records anymore. The first thing you do when you recover from something like this is purge it from your life. My memory, my memory jives with the end of August. You know, there might have been emails that went back and forth but nothing, nothing untoward,nothing inappropriate, no pictures, I don’t think anything past the end of august, early September.”
In case you’re wondering, Weiner says he’s not sexting now, and is not going to do so in the future. He also told me, he’s not worried about being possibly being blackmailed as mayor, but he did sidestep a question on whether his behavior has been so reckless that he may have harmed his wife’s Huma stellar career as a top aide to Hillary Clinton.
“I’m sorry people feel that way. Dominic, we are going to have a nice long conversation here. Are you sure you want to make the entire conversation about something people already know about. People have asked these questions. People know what’s in my background. They have the facts. Enough is enough. At a certain point, find out what the guy is going to do for my housing.”
We would like to, Mr. Weiner, but the daily headlines have to stop first.