Anthony Weiner opened fire at every one of his prominent rivals at a mayoral forum in Queens last night, heralding the feistiest phase of his campaign as the primary draws near.
Still undeterred by a sexting scandal that has threatened to sink his mayoral bid, Mr. Weiner swaggered through the York College event, managing to take shots at Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, all Democrats battling him to reach a probable runoff.
“For too long, what’s been going on in the City Council and [with] the speaker, has been frankly one hand washing the other. And that has to change and it’s going to in my administration,” said Mr. Weiner, tilting his head dramatically to stare back at Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Liu, who were seated behind him.
“When the mayor and the New York Times and the New York Post and the Daily News said, ‘Overturn term limits,’ Chris Quinn said, ‘Okay,’” Mr. Weiner later added. Mr. Weiner also had critical words for Mr. de Blasio: “When term limits was discussed early on, Bill de Blasio said, ‘I want to be speaker, I want to overturn term limits.’ And then, the vote turned the other way and he said, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore.’”
Mr. Weiner, in a question submitted from the audience, also once more addressed his scandalous past, digging in his heels even further by lashing out at the media and his opponents, two entities he seemed to view as one in the same.
“I have to tell you, I have succeeded in unifying all of my opponents, Democratic and Republican, every major newspaper in this town, every TV station, they all agree: ‘Weiner shouldn’t even run,’” Mr. Weiner said, clenching his microphone and standing far closer to the audience than any of his rivals. “I’m not waiting to see what the New York Post or the Daily News has to say about me. For too long they’ve been running this town–they’re the people that brought you a third term.”
Mr. Weiner spoke to applause, reveling in his role as the outsider and anti-establishment contender. As one woman watching him murmured, “I like him, he’s a fighter,” Mr. Weiner plowed ahead, even taking aim at the genial Mr. Thompson, whom the ex-congressman admitted he actually liked.
“I mean, Mr. Thompson is a decent good man. I like hanging out with him on the campaign trail,” he said, his voice softening slightly. “If you want someone who has gotten along with people, Bill Thompson is your man. If you want someone who has fought the good fights, who’s stood up for single-payer healthcare, who stood up against Mayor Giuliani when they were putting up paint that was burning down public housing projects, … who stood up against the entire world, right now, to stand before you and talk about the issues important to the middle class, I’m the person who showed up here to do it.”
Mr. Thompson bristled at Mr. Weiner’s assertion that he lacked fortitude and pointed to the former congressman’s flirtation with a 2009 mayoral bid that he never pulled the trigger on.
“Congressman Weiner [said] he stood up and opposed the mayor when it came to term limits. Let’s be honest, when it came to the term limit issue, I opposed the mayor changing term limits and I opposed what Speaker Quinn did,” Mr. Thompson said. “But Anthony was talking about running for mayor in 2009 and because Mike Bloomberg was the opponent, he decided not to. And we all remember who stood up to Mike Bloomberg in 2009–I did.”
Towards the forum’s end, Mr. Weiner, like other candidates, said he had to leave for another event. Before aides could rush him away, he stopped to pose for as many as 10 pictures and shake hands. As Mr. Thompson loudly defended his record, Mr. Weiner smiled for cameras.