NEW YORK (AP) — New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner defied calls to leave the race after a new sexting scandal threatened his chances at landing one of the highest-profile jobs in the US.
Rivals and newspaper editorial pages urged the Democrat and former favorite in the race to quit a day after he acknowledged exchanging racy messages and photos online with a young woman — even after he quit Congress in 2011 because of a similar scandal involving several women.
“I think he needs serious psychiatric help,” said former colleague Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
Weiner said the campaign is too important to abandon over “embarrassing personal things” becoming public.
The latest scandal erupted Tuesday after the gossip website The Dirty posted X-rated messages and a crotch shot it said he exchanged with a woman last year while using the online alias “Carlos Danger.”
At a news conference, Weiner, who has been a favorite in the polls since he launched his political comeback attempt in May, stood side-by-side with his clearly uncomfortable wife, Huma Abedin, and said he hoped the voters would give him another chance.
Abedin, a longtime adviser to former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, reaffirmed her love and support for her husband and said the matter was “between us.”
Two of the city’s major newspapers, The New York Times and the Daily News, said the 48-year-old Weiner had exhausted his opportunities for forgiveness.
“The serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye” and the mayoral race, the Times wrote.
At least three of his mayoral rivals said he should drop out.
Weiner has emphasized that he said when launching his campaign that more messages might emerge. But until Tuesday, he never said directly that some were sent as recently as late last year.
“I regret not saying explicitly when these exchanges happened,” he told supporters in an email Wednesday.
The blogger who broke the news about the exchanges, Nik Richie, declined to reveal the woman’s identity or put her in contact with the Associated Press.
Richie said the woman didn’t ask for money and wasn’t seeking celebrity, but decided to release her X-rated correspondence with Weiner because she was disturbed to hear him claim in interviews that he’d “cured himself” of his past habit of chasing women online.
He also said the woman “felt abandoned” after Weiner broke off a months-long relationship that, in addition to phone sex and exchanges of nude pictures, also included talks about health care, politics and the former congressman’s cats.
“She thought he loved her,” Richie said.
Democratic strategists said there are few external means of pressuring Weiner to drop out. Weiner has nearly $5 million to spend on the campaign, allowing him to mount a vigorous defense on television.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday continued to place Weiner in the top rung of Democratic contenders, though it was taken largely before Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an NBC4NY/WSJ/Marist Poll, the first since the latest scandal broke, will be released Thursday afternoon.
The ex-congressman was greeted with boos as he took the stage at a public housing meeting Wednesday evening. But by the end of his remarks, the crowd loudly cheered.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press