New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner faced a litany of on-stage insults at the first Democratic mayoral primary debate Tuesday night.
Weiner clashed frequently with City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who stood beside him onstage at WABC-TV Studios in Manhattan. Weiner and Quinn were joined by the city’s public advocate Bill de Blasio, former comptroller Bill Thompson, and current comptroller John Liu.
“Not for nothing, you were in government your whole career until you had to resign from government, so I’m not sure why you’re finger-pointing at people in government,” Quinn sniped at Weiner, who tried to paint himself as an “independent” operating outside the big union-controlled environment of the other candidates.
“This is the problem: They all come from basically the same place. They’ve been part of municipal government for decades now,” Weiner said. “If you want someone truly independent, who’s going to stop this noise … you have a choice here.”
Weiner’s sexting scandal came up repeatedly.
“We should not be talking about one individual and their personal life,” said de Blasio, who surprisingly leads in the most recent Democratic poll.
“Please don’t ask me any more questions about him,” Liu said.
“Weiner Is A Penis,” read the sign of a protester in an anatomically correct bodysuit outside ABC studios.
Former front-runner Weiner, whose campaign by this point has evolved into some kind of Mailer and Breslin-type statement on the nature of New York celebrity, pulled in at fourth place with 10 percent support in a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
De Blasio surprisingly led the field with 30 percent, while Quinn and Thompson trailed with 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The top two vote-getters in the September 10 primary will vie in a run-off for the mayoralty.
In 2011 Weiner resigned the Big Apple’s seat in the U.S. House of representatives. The departure completed a tortured process during which Weiner lied about the existence of multiple graphic, sexual images and text messages sent to numerous women not his wife; spent campaign funds on a private investigator to find a “hacker” Weiner himself had invented; and called a press conference during which he hesitated so long before taking the stage that the late Andrew Breitbart had to step up to the podium and begin the conference himself.
Earlier this year, Weiner decided to bring his skills to bear on a run for New York City mayor. In July, after a new round of sexts were made public, Weiner admitted that he continued to seek out women for lewd online exchanges after his resignation, apparently with the knowledge of his wife, former Hillary Clinton personal assistant Huma Abedin. Weiner and Abedin were married in 2010 and have a child.
“Every second Quinn spends jabbing with Weiner is wasted. I don’t think De Blasio has had a bad moment yet tonight,” MSNBC host Touré tweeted during the debate on the hashtag #NYCDebate.
Weiner recently identified Quinn, who helped change the city term limits law to allow current mayor Bloomberg to seek a third term in 2009, as the one candidate in the race he’d probably never support under any circumstances. Amid the political fallout from Weiner’s sexting relationship with a 23-year old woman, Quinn recently appeared on MSNBC with women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke.