NEW YORK — All Anthony Weiner wanted to do was to make a quick shopping trip to Duane Reade with his young son, but the Democratic mayoral hopeful can no longer even do that without being hounded about the sexting scandal that has derailed his bid for City Hall.
For the past week, dozens of reporters and photographers have been camped out on the doorstep of Weiner’s apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan, yet on Thursday morning, most were gone as Weiner emerged wheeling his 18-month-old son, Jordan, in a stroller.
But just as Weiner probably thought he was getting a brief reprieve from the media circus that has surrounded his campaign in recent days, a man wielding a tiny video camera dashed onto the sidewalk and began filming the candidate and his son.
Weiner wore a pained expression as he declined to answer questions, and inside the store, he tried to act normally, even as the lone paparazzo filmed him through the store’s front windows. Within minutes, Weiner was out the door retreating back to his apartment — with his doorman shooing the man and his camera away.
This has been Weiner’s daily life in the nine days since a new round of lurid messages and lewd pictures forced him to admit that he had continued to sext with women he met online even after he was driven from Congress over the issue.
Weiner has insisted again and again he won’t drop out of the mayor’s race — telling his detractors that he’s “tough” enough to withstand the controversy that has engulfed his campaign. At the same time, Weiner has insisted he will win by “focusing on the issues” that voters care about.
But over the last week, the ex-lawmaker has been unsuccessful in his desperate attempts to change the subject, as everywhere he goes — whether it’s a simple shopping trip, a voter forum or even a television interview — his sexting scandal is all people want to talk about.
On Thursday, just before his impromptu shopping trip, Weiner got testy in an interview with Univision that he booked presumably to appeal to the city’s Spanish-speaking voters ahead of next month’s Democratic primary.
But the interview, unsurprisingly, focused on Weiner’s sexting habits, and the Univision anchor asked him why he had used the name “Carlos Danger” in his sex chats — a name that one of his mayoral rivals, a long-shot candidate named Erick Salgado, has called “very insulting to the Spanish community."
“It was a joke in my personal life between me and one person,” Weiner responded. "I'm not going to comment about the information that that person has chosen to release. They can do whatever they want. They can try to harm me in any way they want."
Weiner then delivered a long soliloquy urging voters and the media to focus on the city’s future rather than his personal failings. At several points during the interview, Weiner used the phrase “Ya basta” — which, as Capital New York points out, translates to “Enough is enough.”
But while Weiner has started to limit his interactions with reporters who have shown up to cover his events in recent days, it’s not only the media that are obsessed with his sexting scandal.
At virtually every public appearance this week, voters have pressed Weiner on the scandal — most recently on Thursday night when the candidate was asked by a man at a forum in the Rockaways why people should trust him.
“I’ve dishonored my wife,” Weiner replied, according to the New York Times, “but, sir, I didn’t do anything to you.”
With his poll numbers on the decline and the primary a little over a month away, Weiner has said he won’t shy away from questions about his “personal failings” — but for his candidacy to survive, he desperately needs to turn the focus back to what he would do if elected mayor — and at this point, it’s unclear how he will do that.
- Anthony Weiner