Weiner Says He Won't Leave New York Mayor's Race

fromWNYC

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner acknowledged Tuesday that being forced to resign from Congress didn't stop him from continuing to send sexually explicit photos and messages to women online. But that doesn't mean he's quitting the mayor's race.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

It didn't seem possible, but this year's elections in New York City keep getting more unusual. A couple of weeks ago, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer launched a campaign for city comptroller. It's his first run since resigning after a prostitution scandal.

MONTAGNE: Now a high-profile candidate for mayor is addressing his own sex scandal again. Anthony Wiener was forced to resign from his U.S. congressional seat in 2011 for sending sexually explicit photos and messages to women online.

GREENE: And as we learned yesterday, that behavior didn't stop. Wiener is now confronting new sexting allegations. His opponents are calling for him to step down. Even The New York Times editorial board is urging him to quit the race.

But as Anna Sale reports from member station WNYC, Wiener plans to keep on campaigning.

ANNA SALE, BYLINE: At a hastily organized press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Anthony Weiner said he and his wife knew this was coming.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ANTHONY WEINER: Perhaps I'm surprised that more things didn't come out sooner.

SALE: When Weiner entered the mayor's race in May, he said in interviews that more photographs would likely surface, and they did, on a website called The Dirty. Blurred photos of a man's naked crotch, along with an anonymous female source, who said she exchanged sexually explicit chats and phone calls with Weiner last summer. One particularly embarrassing detail: online, he allegedly used the name Carlos Danger.

Weiner did not address these specific claims. He said only that some of it was true and some of it was not. But he admitted that he had inappropriate online relationships well after he resigned in 2011 for similar behavior.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

WEINER: Some of these things happened before my resignation. Some of them happened after. But the fact is that that was also the time that my wife and I were working through some things in our marriage.

SALE: He said the behavior continued through last summer, even after he started a PR campaign to rehabilitate his image, complete with a People magazine spread of family photos with his wife and then-six-month-old son.

As Weiner spoke to reporters on Tuesday, his wife Huma Abedin stood beside him. And then she stepped to the mic.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

HUMA ABEDIN: You'll have to bear with me, because I'm very nervous.

SALE: A close advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Abedin has raised money for her husband's mayoral run and greeted voters on the campaign trail. But this was her first time at a press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ABEDIN: We discussed all of this before Anthony decided he would run for mayor. So really, what I want to say is I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him. And as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.

SALE: Candidates running against Weiner rushed to disagree. Democrat Bill de Blasio said Weiner's exploits are distracting from the needs of New Yorkers, and he needs to drop out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

BILL DE BLASIO: This is the final straw. His presence in this race continues to diminish the debate. And it's time for his presence in this race to end.

SALE: De Blasio would benefit if Weiner quit. Wiener's been among the frontrunners in a packed field since he entered the race. At least one voter, 20-year-old Sarah Abraham, says she's still willing to look past Weiner's Internet habits.

SARAH ABRAHAM: I mean, it might affect his ability to be a good husband, but he's not marrying New York.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAM: That doesn't really affect his ability to be a good mayor.

SALE: So that's the question now, whether these new details and adjusted timelines will shake New Yorkers' willingness to take Weiner seriously.

For NPR News, I'm Anna Sale, in New York.

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