Weiner sinks in polls amid more news about online sex scandal
Anthony Weiner’s once-resurgent political standing in New York City seemed to erode by the moment, as more graphic portraits of his penis appeared online and his conduct and lack of candor were denounced.
The New York Times
NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign entered a chaotic phase Thursday as he admitted to having explicit online relationships with at least three women since he left Congress, and the woman at the center of the latest scandal appeared on TV, remembering him as a “perpetually horny middle-aged man.”
Weiner, 48, appearing shaken and at times rambling, revised his previous estimate of the total number of women with whom he had engaged in sexual encounters online to 10, up from six. But he made clear he could not say for certain how many women or lewd images might yet surface.
“There are more than — there are a few,” the Democrat said. “I don’t have a specific number for you.” Later, he tried to explain the sequence of his Internet relationships: “Sometimes they didn’t go consistently. Whatever.”
Weiner’s once-resurgent political standing in New York City seemed to erode by the moment, as more graphic portraits of his penis appeared online and his conduct and lack of candor were denounced.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Weiner’s behavior as “reprehensible; it’s so disrespectful of women.”
Even Weiner’s rank-and-file donors said they were disillusioned.
“This kind of behavior is very bad,” said Kishore Belani, the owner of a video company in Queens who recently contributed to Weiner’s campaign. “I don’t think that he deserves another chance.”
There was more bad news for Weiner. An NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll conducted after the revelation he had an X-rated online relationship with Sydney Leathers, 23, showed his support dropping sharply and his unfavorable rating at an all-time high.
Weiner’s favorability rating among registered Democrats has plunged to 30 percent, from 52 percent in June, according to the poll taken Wednesday, the day after news broke about his post-congressional sexting. His unfavorability rating shot up to 55 percent. It was 36 percent in June.
He also dropped to second place in the Sept. 10 primary fight, trailing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 25 percent to 16 percent.
The accounting of online flirtations offered by Weiner Thursday was the most detailed he has provided since he resigned from office in 2011, vowing to learn from his mistakes, reconcile with his wife and seek therapy.
When he re-emerged this spring, asking for a second chance to serve the public, he portrayed himself as a rehabilitated figure who since his resignation had reflected on his past errors and abandoned his habit of sending lewd messages and photos to strangers he met online.
But those claims were belied by a series of embarrassing admissions this week. On Tuesday, he said he had initiated explicit exchanges with Leathers, of Indiana, a year after he resigned, using the alias “Carlos Danger”; on Thursday, he acknowledged doing the same with two more women during the same period.
The latest revelations jolted a candidacy that had improbably climbed to the top of polls. Adding to the melodrama, Leathers emerged publicly, appearing on “Inside Edition” to describe their relationship, which lasted months and continued even as he made plans to run for mayor.
Leathers, a Democratic activist, accused him of lying to his wife and to the public about ending his online dalliance. “I’m disgusted by him,” she said. “He’s not who I thought he was.”
Weiner said Thursday he was still seeking professional help for his online behavior, and he did not believe he had an addiction.
He made his comments as he tried to shift the spotlight from his personal life to his policy ideas, by going to a soup kitchen in Brooklyn, N.Y., to lay out his plan to appoint a Cabinet-level official to oversee nonprofit groups in the city.
“I want to return to having a conversation,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to.”
Material from The Washington Post is included in this report.