Although former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s comptroller campaign hogged much of the limelight this week, the mayoral bid of another scandal-scarred pol, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, plodded along this afternoon as he headed into El Barrio to meet with senior citizens.
Flanked by a handful of reporters–whose ranks appear to be shrinking as the campaign wears on–Mr. Weiner entered the Casabe Houses for the Elderly, and strolled over to the cafeteria where many of the residents were busy eating fried fish with tartar sauce. After Mr. Weiner joined in, residents began to question who exactly was sitting next to them.
“No comptroller,” Mr. Weiner said, beaming, when one senior suggested he was running for that office. “That’s the other guy.”
Despite predictions that Mr. Spitzer’s jump into the election would shift the focus back to Mr. Weiner’s own scandal, the former Congressman seemed amused by the notion that even in a senior living center, he couldn’t avoid comparisons with the former governor.
But even when they figured out who he really was, Mr. Weiner, a practiced retail politician, found himself warmly welcomed by the room. After Mr. Weiner politely declined a meal, saying he didn’t want to take the food from the mouths of others, a member of the center insisted on bringing the notoriously skinny pol a plate.
“We’re Latinos,” joked Arnie Segarra, a longtime friend of Mr. Weiner. “We want to fatten you up.”
It wasn’t the only offer. Mr. Weiner was given food in every room he entered. After a brief lunch, Mr. Weiner headed upstairs to meet with a smaller group of the center’s representatives. He spoke fondly of elderly living facilities, saying that he used to visit them to calm himself down whenever he became frustrated in Congress.
(Mr. Weiner also told the room that his great-grandfather’s name was “Wolf Weiner,” anticipating the hushed laughter that followed.)
When Mr. Weiner was later asked his thoughts on Mr. Spitzer’s recent addition to the city comptroller race and all the associated buzz, Mr. Weiner responded calmly, using the rehearsed remarks he shared on Monday, immediately after Mr. Spitzer entered the race.
“Look, I’m focused like a laser beam on being a fighter for the middle class and those struggling to make it,” he said today. “And so every day, I’m talking about issues that people care about. Every day I talk about things like housing, or the ferry plan I’m putting out today. And I’m going to keep doing that. I’m not spending a lot of attention on other campaigns.”