NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner admitted that he exchanged sexual messages with at least three more women after a sexting scandal forced him out of Congress two years ago.
The revelation came as a new poll found the Democratic mayoral hopeful’s popularity has plummeted after he admitted that he continued to send salacious online messages to women who were not his wife as late as last summer.
A Wall Street Journal/Marist/NBC 4 New York poll found Weiner’s favorability number among registered Democrats in New York dropped from 52 percent in June to 30 percent in a poll conducted on Wednesday after the latest messages were made public. Fifty-five percent of Democrats now say they have an unfavorable impression of Weiner, compared to 36 percent last month.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on Thursday, calling Weiner's behavior "reprehensible" and "disrespectful to women." Pelosi and other party leaders pushed Weiner to resign from Congress in 2011 after evidence of his sexting behavior first surfaced.
"If they’re clueless, get a clue. If they need therapy, do it in private,” Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters on Thursday.
The poll and Pelosi's criticism came as Weiner desperately tried to turn the page on the scandal that has enveloped his campaign since Tuesday, when he admitted at a press conference that he had continued to send sexual messages to strangers.
“These things were very wrong. I deeply regret them. I am working through them with my wife. They are behind us. That has not changed,” Weiner insisted at a press event on Thursday.
The former congressman spoke at a kosher soup kitchen in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, where he hoped to promote a proposal to create a “nonprofit czar” at City Hall to better coordinate how the city can assist private charities. The event attracted more than 50 reporters, who mobbed Weiner as he arrived.
Inside, Weiner briefly worked in the kitchen, helping workers assemble meals for the day. But a handful of residents from the heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood questioned why Weiner was even being allowed in the door — including one woman who joined reporters inside for the event.
“This piece of dirt doesn’t belong here!” a women yelled. “How can you cover him? He’s dirt!”
She declined to say why she was there, even as she clutched her iPhone in an apparent attempt to snap a photo of Weiner.
Minutes later, Weiner was at the podium making his pitch on the city’s relationships with charities. But as he took questions, the subject quickly turned to his lewd messages. Under questioning, he admitted that he had exchanged sexual messages with “between six and 10” women before he resigned from Congress in June 2011 and at least three more women up until last summer when he says he quit.
Asked how voters can trust that this behavior really is behind him, Weiner suggested it was out of his hands.
“Citizens have to decide for themselves whether this personal behavior, when one thing happened or it didn’t happen, is important to them. All I am saying is that these things were personal in nature,” he said. “I have worked them out between me and my wife and ... they‘ve been behind me. They’ve been behind me for some time now. And it wasn’t until they were behind me that I decided to run for mayor. I understand that might not be a satisfying answer for some people.”
He implied that he is still seeking help for his issues, though he declined to call it an addiction. And he praised his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, for standing behind him.
“My wife, God bless her, has been extraordinarily patient with me and extraordinarily supportive. I wonder all the time what I did to deserve such an amazing woman,” Weiner said.
Weiner’s rivals have split over the question of whether he should leave the race. At a press conference on Wednesday, mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn stopped short of saying Weiner should drop out. But she said the scandal raised questions about his “judgment” and “maturity.”
Asked about that criticism, Weiner trashed Quinn’s vote to overturn term limits that allowed Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve a third term at City Hall.
“Look, you can question my judgment, but I didn’t lie to the people of the city of New York and say I wasn’t going to overturn term limits,” Weiner replied.
Again and again, Weiner pleaded for voters to overlook his personal failings to consider what he could bring to City Hall.
“My mistakes are manifest. They are in the context of my personal behavior in the privacy of my home. They became public. I brought it upon myself. I have no one to blame for this situation,” Weiner said. “I leave it to the voters to decide. If they believe this is disqualifying, if they believe this embarrassing personal behavior means they will never vote for me, I understand. ... You know about my background, but you also know about my plans. You know I have made this mistakes and you know I am asking you for a second chance. That conversation has not changed just because something else has come out.”
But Weiner's attempts to get his campaign back on track won't be easy. Sydney Leathers, a 22-year-old Indiana woman who shared the lewd pictures and exchanges she had with Weiner with the gossip website The Dirty, gave her first television interview, telling Inside Edition she is "disgusted" by the ex-congressman. She told the show that Weiner had told her that he loved her.
“It literally disgusts me. It makes me feel physically ill,” Leathers told Inside Edition when asked about Weiner's press conference earlier this week. “I’ve barely been able to eat since all of this happened. I feel sick about it. I’m disgusted by him. He’s not who I thought he was."
Asked what advice she would give Weiner, Leathers replied, “Stop lying, stop embarrassing his wife and get help.”