NEW YORK — New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner met with Superstorm Sandy victims Friday on Staten Island as he tried to move past the sexting scandal threatening to derail his political comeback attempt.
The former congressman traveled to the furthest reaches of the city to tour the ruined home of Joseph Cardinale, a 14-year resident of a beachfront neighborhood still hurting from the storm’s deadly tidal surge. The house, overgrown and stripped to the studs, will have to be torn down and Cardinale is upset about how difficult it has been to rebuild.
Weiner said he visited the neighborhood because he wanted to bring attention to the plight of storm victims.
“One of the reasons why we’re here today is that I knew that now, you’re gonna come with me. And you should see this,” he told reporters. “There is this notion because the cameras had left, because some of the headlines changed, that the problem was solved. But for many, many people, they are still dealing with the challenge.”
But even in that setting he couldn’t escape the scandal. After walking through the destroyed house and meeting several neighbors who also shared their Sandy horror stories, he was confronted by retired schoolteacher Peg Brunda.
“I don’t quite understand how you would feel you’d have the moral authority, as the head administrator in this city, to oversee employees, when your standard of conduct is so much lower than the standard of conduct that is expected of us,” said Brunda.
Weiner asked whether she would vote for him. Brunda said no.
“I want to let your neighbors make their decisions for themselves,” Weiner said.
So far, Weiner said he intends to stay in the crowded mayoral race, where he is facing off against several other Democrats and Republicans. The campaign represented Weiner’s attempt to return to politics after resigning from Congress in 2011 because of revelations that he’d sent sexual texts and photographs to women he met online.
He had been polling well before this week, when a 23-year-old woman revealed that Weiner had sent nude photographs to her as well, months after his resignation. Weiner, who is married, admitted having racy correspondence with as many as three women since leaving office.
A front-runner in the race, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has been saying for days that Weiner has turned the race into a “circus,” repeated those comments in interviews and campaign appearances Friday. She said he had “a pattern of reckless behavior” a lack of maturity and “difficulty with the truth.”
Some news outlets continued to heap ridicule on Weiner Friday.
The free daily newspaper AM New York ran a photo illustration of Weiner wearing a clown nose, next to the headline “3-Fling Circus.” Even The New Yorker got in on the act: next week’s cover will feature a cartoon Weiner astride the Empire State Building like King Kong, using a smartphone to photograph the skyscraper between his legs.
Weiner said his online dalliances are a thing of the past.