Anthony Weiner Comes Clean, Presses On in Mayoral Bid

BY Christina Bellantoni  July 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM EDT

Anthony WeinerAnthony Weiner, a leading candidate for New York City mayor, addressed new allegations that he engaged in lewd online conversations. The former congressman says he will continue his candidacy. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The Morning Line

It’s not every day that a newsletter closely following elections and governing in Washington can legitimately write about sexting and an alias that could have been scripted by Hollywood.

But sometimes the practice becomes a political story — and sometimes more than once.

Enter Carlos Danger, the name that New York mayoral candidate and former Rep. Anthony Weiner allegedly used to send sexually charged messages and photographs to a young woman, long after similar behavior forced the Democrat’s resignation from Congress.

Here’s the basics: Weiner came clean Tuesday to engaging in behavior that he says was “wrong and hurtful to my wife” after a website called “The Dirty” posted the accusations, screengrabs and photos from a 22-year-old who claimed to have an internet relationship with Weiner for about six months, just after the couple welcomed the birth of their son.

Huma Abedin joined Weiner for a press conference a few hours later, telling reporters it was not an easy time but making clear she stands by her politician husband. Weiner insisted he will remain a candidate for the mayoral election, and declared there is “no question that what I did was wrong” and that this type of behavior is behind him.

“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” Weiner said. Earlier this year, Weiner had told New York Magazine that he had engaged in sexting with multiple people, and predicted that people hadn’t seen the last image: “If reporters want to go try to find more, I can’t say that they’re not going to be able to find another picture, or find another person who may want to come out on their own.”

It’s salacious and silly, no doubt. But it does matter in politics.

Between Weiner’s freeform press conference and resignation in the summer of 2011 and Tuesday’s admissions, a very deliberate strategy has emerged that is one model for other politicians caught in scandal. (After all, this is the year of the comeback for people like Mark Sanford, for instance.)

Together, Weiner and Abedin let the world in, allowed their baby son to be photographed by People magazine and went in depth and on the record with the New York Times magazine as the attempt at a comeback bid materialized.

New York City’s mayor is an important position on the national level. Weiner has to survive a primary before making it to the November general election.

His rivals — Bill de Blasio and Sal F. Albanese, both Democrats, and John A. Catsimatidis, a Republican — demanded he drop out, the New York Times reports.

And the New York Times editorialized Wednesday that the Democrat has “already disqualified himself” from office and called on him to leave the race.

Still, New York voters have made clear they don’t have a problem with indecent politicians, and Weiner’s presence in the race has certainly captured the city’s attention.

The news in New York, of course, came as many Americans were enraptured by the still-to-be-named royal baby, and as President Barack Obama prepared to give a speech Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

Mr. Obama is returning to the school where in 2005 as a just-elected Senator with a bright political future he laid out his economic vision. The White House says he will “lay out his vision for rebuilding an economy that puts the middle class and those fighting to join it front and center.”

The idea is to talk about the ideals of the middle class: job security, education, retirement savings and affordable health care, administration officials said, and Mr. Obama wants to “chart a course for where America needs to go — not just in the next three months or even the next three years, but a steady, persistent effort over the long term to restore this country’s basic bargain for the middle class.”

The president’s remarks are set against a backdrop of House Republicans proposing even deeper spending cuts to some of the very programs he will be lauding, and as his own approval rating suffers.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 adults released Wednesday found that “the American public’s dissatisfaction with Washington has reached new heights.”

NBC’s senior political editor Mark Murray writes that, “(a) whopping 83 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’ job, which is an all-time high in the survey. What’s more, President Barack Obama has seen his job-approval rating dip to its lowest level since Aug. 2011, when the debt-ceiling showdown wounded almost every Washington politician.”

Respondents blamed partisanship for their unhappiness with Washington, and also said the middle class is being ignored.

That’s one reason the president will refocus his efforts on the economy, and head to Warrensburg, Mo., for a second push. He’ll give a series of speeches over the next few weeks with similar themes.

LINE ITEMS

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  • Politico writes that the debt ceiling drama has returned.
  • Thank you, Slate, for giving us the Carlos Danger Name Generator.
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  • Democrats are excited that former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle Nunn is running for Senate in the Peach State. Republicans face a crowded primary in the open-seat contest.
  • The Washington Post’s Matea Gold looked at super PACs already getting active for 2016.
  • Two-time Senate candidate Linda McMahon won’t run again in Connecticut, but is playing an active role with the state GOP.
  • But New Hampshire Republicans, including ex-Rep. Frank Guinta, are gearing up for 2014 congressional bids.
  • A book publisher on Tumblr presents a collection of the best .gifs of George Washington.
  • The royal baby’s impact on the U.K.’s economy? An estimated $380 million in economic stimulus.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Political Editor Christina Bellantoni interviewed Victor Navasky about his book on political cartoons, “The Art of Controversy.” Watch here or below.

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Terence Burlij, Katelyn Polantz and Mallory Sofastaii contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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