Anthony Weiner took a beating on his first official stop in Staten Island Monday night.
Mr. Weiner was repeatedly hit by his rivals, including Green Party candidate Tony Gronowicz and former Councilman Sal Albanese, for an old racially-charged campaign flier, his congressional vote authorizing the Iraq War, and his allegedly “coarse” conduct during a candidates’ forum hosted by the Pleasant Plains, Prince’s Bay and Richmond Valley Civic Association.
“I’m going to point out something that has nothing to do with your anatomy, I’m going to point out something that has to do with your record,” an agitated Mr. Gronowicz said, knocking Mr. Weiner for mailers he sent out during his first City Council run that played on the tensions between the black and Jewish communities of Brooklyn at the time. “Back in 1991, he was a long-shot candidate in a Jewish district in Brooklyn and he ran a race-baiting campaign that the Times attacked because he won.”
Mr. Gronowicz had become irritated when he spotted City Comptroller John Liu and Mr. Weiner bantering with each other while he was addressing the audience. After Mr. Liu had said–with a grin–that he did not vote in favor of a term limits extension as Mr. Gronowicz discussed the topic, Mr. Weiner quipped that “no Green Party” Council member had voted that way. The Green Party obviously has no members in the City Council.
“His recent behavior is also very coarse. I would not have said anything but he dared to interrupt me,” Mr. Gronowicz said.
The conversation got so heated that public advocate candidate Letitia James had to interject.
“Mr. Weiner didn’t interrupt you, he was just talking to the comptroller of the City of New York,” Ms. James said. “It was not his intent.”
Mr. Albanese, another candidate with an uphill battle to City Hall and no stranger to tweaking Mr. Weiner, would soon jump in with his own line of attack–twice mentioning a vote Mr. Weiner took in favor of the Iraq War.
“Anthony voted for the invasion of Iraq, which cost us a billion dollars,” said Mr. Albanese. “We have this problem in urban centers across America, we can’t fund our transit system. Let’s take care of America, let’s not get involved in unnecessary skirmishes.”
Mr. Weiner parried the charge with another wise-crack.
“Notwithstanding the critique, I won’t rule out as mayor invading Yonkers. I want you to know I keep that possibility at my disposal,” he joked.
After the forum, Mr. Weiner, when pressed by Politicker, stuck to his laugh line.
“Apparently there’s some concern about my record, that I’d be too quick to invade Yonkers or Jersey City,” he said. “People have no reason to be concerned, unless they’re aggressive, then I reserve the right.”
He also repeated that he’d already apologized to Ms. Cohen for his conduct during the 1991 race.
“I said at the time, immediately that week, I jotted a note to Adele,” he said.