And so Mr. Liu keeps up the relentless pace of his five-borough tour. His handlers seemed determined to keep him in front of mostly friendly audiences. Last Wednesday, he hosted an African-American history event at Medger Evers College, where he pushed back against claims by the ever-waiting gaggle of reporters that he was hanging Ms. Hou out to dry, and where he received a standing ovation from the locals. He then attended two other events at two public union headquarters in Manhattan. The next day, reporters followed him on a walk from the Chinese Benevolent Association to his office, where he either recited boilerplate—“My campaign operations are no different than other campaign operations”—or said nothing. The next day he did three events in front of Asian community groups (at one of which an audience member pulled The Observer aside and pointed to Mr. Liu and said, “He is our Jeremy Lin.”) The day after that, he turned up at four Asian community-group events.
Once on the dais, he never acknowledges the massive three-count elephant in the room, not even noting that it is a trying time, or thanking those in attendance for their support. The outsize press presence at the usually sleepy events also goes unmentioned, as if ignoring the predicament long enough will make the problem go away.
Staffers say morale is low in the office, despite the efforts of Ms. Ru, who many suspect will be the next to fall, to buck them up. According to one attendee, the embattled adviser told a closed-door meeting of high-level staffers that the indictment was “bullshit.”
“It was really crazy,” said one staffer in the comptroller’s office. “They really shouldn’t be talking about this stuff to us at all.”
There remains a chance that Mr. Liu will be found innocent in all of this. Former campaign staffers say he was remarkably detached from the day-to-day business of a campaign, preferring to show up where he was told and leave the minutia to others.
And if he is able to survive until election season, he could survive even further. This was someone, after all, who got busted for inventing a key part of his biography whole cloth and still won citywide office. His advisers note that his strength was never among those who make a fetish of campaign finance, and that the more the tabloids and the media pile on, the more his support among his most favored backers grows.
So far, two city councilmembers have been eyeing a run for his seat—Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn and Daniel Garodnick of Manhattan—but neither may want to get into an ugly campaign against an incumbent, one that is surely to split along racial lines.
Privately, Mr. Liu has insisted that these allegations are just that, and hinted, if never quite saying so outright, that he will be cleared. And so onward he goes, every night a new spot in the city, ignoring the press and into the arms of those who have hoisted him up this far.
But how much further on the show can go remains to be seen.
“I don’t get questions from Chinese language media anymore about whether or not he can run for mayor,” said Michael Tobman, a political consultant active in Queens. “I get questions about whether or not he can stay in office. Once that community embraces the changed reality of his fortune and how much trouble he is really in, there is really nothing left.”
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