Under fire, Weiner stands firm as latest poll shows him support
A defiant Rep. Anthony Weiner on Thursday vowed not to resign, after a poll showed that his constituents want him to stay despite a snowballing outcry from colleagues who doubt he can recover from his sex scandal.
Spotted in midtown, the seven-term congressman told the New York Post that he’s “going to go back to my community office and try to get some work done.”
A NY1-Marist poll Thursday showed 56 percent of voters in his district want him to stay, while 33 percent think he should resign and 12 percent are undecided.
“Congressman Weiner’s constituents are drawing a line between his ethical conduct and professional judgment,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “They’re still in his corner on the question of resignation…. As for his re-election prospects, that’s still very much up in the air.”
The poll found that while 31 percent of Weiner's constituents said they would vote against him, 30 percent claimed they would vote for him when he’s up for re-election next year.
Democratic strategist Joseph Mercurio said: “The problem for him is he still hasn’t shown that he’s doing any rehabilitation for his problems.”
Weiner, who married last July and is expecting his first child with Huma Abedin, admitted to lying about sending lascivious messages and photos of himself to six women during the past three years.
Weiner, 46, is expected to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday, when Congress reconvenes. He’ll undoubtedly take heat from reporters and associates, who have not rallied to his side. He’ll also be waiting for word on an investigation by the House ethics committee.
Meanwhile, New York politicians joined at least six national Democrats in suggesting Weiner step down.
Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy, who ranks second in seniority in the Senate, said he’d welcome a voluntary resignation. Former Mayor Ed Koch, who initially supported Weiner, told ABC that “he can’t recover from this,” after an X-rated photo of Weiner was circulated Wednesday.
“I don’t see how he can represent his constituents,” Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) said on the Imus radio show.
Rep. Anthony Weiner isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last pol to become embroiled in a sex scandal, but he’s utterly mismanaged the aftermath, experts said.
“He didn’t follow the playbook when it comes to dealing with crises,” said Jamie Chandler, a Hunter College political science professor. “There hasn’t been much thought or planning in the Weiner camp as to handling this.”
Some rules: Figure out who still supports you, hire a good crisis management professional, release a statement in writing or not at all, apologize -- make it short, have someone standing at your side, and don’t make promises for your future.
Afterwards, reassess the public’s opinion and then decide what to do next, Chandler said.
Here’s a look at how a few lawmakers dealt with similar situations:
Name: Dem President Bill Clinton
Scandal Broke: January 1998
What happened: Had a sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
End result: Impeached, but stayed in office; ended his second term with a high approval rating.
Name: Dem Gov. Eliot Spitzer
Scandal Broke: March 2008
What happened: Hired high-priced hookers.
End result: Announced his resignation two days later; has built a career as a TV news commentator.
Name: GOP Rep. Vito Fossella
Scandal Broke: May 2008
What happened: A DUI arrest uncovered a mistress and 3-year-old child.
End result: The Staten Islander rode out his term, but didn’t seek re-election. He’s mulling a comeback.
Name: GOP Rep. Chris Lee
Scandal Broke: February 2011
What happened: Emailed topless photos to a woman he met on Craigslist
End result: Resigned hours after photos hit the web.
Name: Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.)
Scandal Broke: September 2006
What happened: Sent inappropriate messages to male teenage congressional pages.
End result: Quit within a month; later came out as a gay man.