NEW YORK – Anthony Weiner vowed to stay in the race for New York City mayor Sunday despite the loss of his campaign manager and the drumbeat of critics questioning his fitness for public office.
“We have an amazing staff, but this isn’t about the people working on the campaign. It’s about the people we’re campaigning for,” Weiner said after speaking at a Brooklyn church.
Weiner confirmed that campaign manager Danny Kedem resigned Saturday after reports surfaced that Weiner continued to exchange lewd photos and messages with women despite resigning from Congress in 2011 over the same behavior.
Weiner said he would keep talking about “ideas for the middle class and people struggling to make it every single day” and added, “We knew this was going to be a tough campaign.”
Kedem had managed the re-election of John DeStefano Jr. to a 10th term as mayor of New Haven in 2011 and worked on Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
The 31-year-old Kedem was credited with helping Weiner pull into the lead among the crowded field of Democratic primary candidates before the latest revelations about Weiner’s raunchy online exchanges with women.
Rival mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Weiner has shown “a pattern of reckless behavior, an inability to tell the truth and a real lack of maturity and responsibility.”
Unlike other candidates who have urged Weiner to end his campaign, Quinn said opponents should not “say who should or shouldn’t get in and out of races.”
But she questioned whether he is the right person to lead the city.
“Has he disqualified himself? Yes, he’s disqualified himself,” Quinn said. “But not just because of these scandals, though that certainly has. He didn’t have the qualifications when he was in Congress.”
Later on the NBC program, former President Barack Obama senior adviser David Axelrod accused Weiner of “wasting time and space.” Axelrod, who noted that his former firm is working for another mayoral candidate, said Americans “believe in second chances, but not third chances.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King, the target of a blistering 2010 attack from Weiner over a bill to provide free medical services for World Trade Center recovery workers, said Weiner is “not psychologically qualified to be mayor of the city of New York.”
Weiner was forced to discuss his online behavior this past week after a gossip website printed excerpts of conversations Weiner had with Indiana college student Sydney Leathers last summer.
With his wife, Huma Abedin, alongside, Weiner apologized and promised that the “behavior is behind me.” He later admitted that he traded racy messages with at least three women since leaving office.
He vowed to stay in the race, saying he believed “people care more about their futures than my past with my wife and my embarrassing things.”
Quinn led the race before Weiner jumped in but slipped behind him in most polls over the past two months. But a one-day poll conducted after Weiner’s latest revelations has Quinn leading Weiner in the race for the Democratic nomination. The mayoral primary is Sept. 10, and the general election is Nov. 5. The primary winner needs to get at least 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff with the No. 2 vote-getter.
William Eimicke, a Columbia University professor of public management who has held New York City and New York state government posts, said the defection of his campaign manager could cripple Weiner’s campaign.
“I think he’s toast!” Eimicke said in an email.