Calls for 'Carlos Danger' to withdraw pour in
CNN — It didn't take long for the calls to come in for Anthony Weiner to withdraw from the New York City mayoral contest following his shocking admission Tuesday that he sent lusty messages more than a year after resigning from Congress for the same dubious habits.
The editorial board of the New York Times urged Weiner to take his personal struggles "out of the race for mayor of New York City." The New York Post belittled him as "Carlos the Jerkel," a reference to Weiner's use of the online alias "Carlos Danger." Pundits wondered how someone who had shown such poor judgment was even in the race.
In an extraordinary news conference, Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, pleaded for voters to forgive the embattled candidate, as his wife says she has forgiven him. Weiner also reminded the public that he warned at the beginning of his campaign in May that more photos and texts could emerge.
But the Times editorial board didn't buy it.
"That's ridiculous and speaks to a familiar but repellent pattern of misleading and evasion," the board wrote. "It's up to Mr. Weiner if he wants to keep running, to count on voters to forgive and forget and hand him the keys to City Hall. But he has already disqualified himself."
His remarks came hours after screenshots of sexually explicit conversations and photographs appeared on a gossip website that alleged the communications were between Weiner and a young woman last summer, just as Weiner and his wife were beginning to reemerge from their private lives for public interviews.
"Some of these things happened before my resignation, some happened after," Weiner said at a hastily organized press conference in New York.
Another prominent newspaper, the New York Daily News, also released a scathing editorial, listing lie after lie by the former congressman.
"He is not fit to lead America's premier city," stated the editorial, titled "Why Weiner must go". "Lacking the dignity and discipline that New York deserves in a mayor, Weiner must recognize that his demons have no place in City Hall.
Rupert Murdoch, who owns the New York Post, tweeted "Weiner almost tragic if not so funny. What a sicko. Should help city by just fading away."
And as Weiner predicted, some of his opponents for the mayoral nomination also urged the contender to drop out.
"Enough is enough. I'm calling on Anthony to withdraw from this race -- for the good of the city that I know he loves as much as all of us," tweeted Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He also started an online petition urging others to call on Weiner to end his campaign.
Two other candidates, John Catsimatidis and Sal Albanese, tweeted similar pushes for Weiner to step aside.
But Weiner has implied he plans to do anything but leave the contest in the weeks leading up to the Democratic primary election on September 10. Asked Tuesday at the press conference how he'll respond to such calls, he simply stated: "I'm sure many of my opponents would like me to drop out of the race."
Weiner resigned his House seat in 2011 after first lying about, then admitting to sending lewd photographs and images to multiple women.
Unlike his public resignation two years ago, Abedin spoke up for her husband Tuesday at the press conference, saying she has moved past her husband's addiction and urged others to do the same.
"What I want to say is I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as I have said from the beginning, we are moving forward," said Abedin, a longtime senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, adding that Weiner had made some "horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress, and after."
John Avlon, senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and CNN contributor, argued Abedin is simply following the model set by Hillary Clinton.
"Part of the Clinton playbook is success heals all wounds. Let's just win and all this tawdry mess will be in the rearview mirror," he said on CNN's "New Day."
Weiner argued he had changed.
"This behavior is behind me. I've apologized to Huma and am grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness," he said.
But his words were not convincing for the New York chapter of the National Organization for Woman, which quickly called on Weiner to withdraw from the race following his press conference.
"As if we didn't already have enough evidence of Anthony Weiner's utter lack of judgment, impulse control and honesty, these latest revelations show the degree to which his candidacy distracts us from the important business of choosing the next leader of New York City," Sonia Ossorio, the president of the group, wrote in a statement.
The chat messages purporting to be from Weiner were published on the website TheDirty.com. The post cited a "solid" source alleging Weiner engaged in lewd online conversations with her, and reproduced lengthy chats that were sexual in nature. A blurred photo of what alleges to be Weiner's crotch also appeared on the site.
"I just want people to really know he's lying when he acts like he has changed," the unnamed woman, 22, told TheDirty.
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, another disgraced politician trying to make a comeback, said Weiner's new controversy is between him and his wife. Spitzer said at a campaign stop Wednesday morning that he's focusing on his own race for city comptroller and talking to voters.
The verdict is still out on whether Weiner will survive the latest firestorm. Polls taken over the past several weeks have shown Weiner either slightly ahead of his closest rival for the Democratic mayoral nomination, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, or trailing her in second place.
"He's been campaigning asking for a second chance. Now today he's asking for a third chance," Avlon said Wednesday morning. "That's fundamentally different in what the voters are being asked."
Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and CNN commentator, said Weiner's latest admission will put him even farther under water with women voters.
"I don't claim to be a thermometer for the women vote, but I can tell you I'd be hard for me to vote for a guy who's now made his wife endure this kind of public humiliation," she said.
The calls for Weiner to step down were familiar refrains from Weiner's first scandal in 2011, when a tsunami of criticism engulfed Weiner, with few of his fellow Democrats coming to his side. After a few weeks resisting such calls, he ultimately resigned while confessing to the indiscretions.
In the run-up to his mayoral bid, which he launched in May, he said more photos could emerge.
"If reporters want to go and try to find more, I can't say they're not going to be able to find another picture, find another person who may want to come out on their own," he told RNN Television. "But I'm not going to contribute to that. The basics of the story are not going to change. It's behind me. It was a huge mistake."
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Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak and Paul Steinhauser