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Fresh sex scandal hurting Weiner campaign

26 July 2013, 13:35

New York — New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said that he'd traded racy messages with as many as three women since similar sexting forced him out of Congress, and a new poll said the fresh scandal was hurting his campaign.

The Democrat, whose wife was a longtime aide for former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also said he supposed he'd had sexually charged exchanges with a total of six to 10 women; he'd previously put that number at six. His campaign later clarified that Weiner corresponded with three of them after leaving office.

The scandal got seamier on Thursday when gossip website The Dirty, which first reported the new correspondence this week, posted an unredacted crotch shot that it said Weiner sent to a woman last year.

Weiner had been competitive in most polls until The Dirty posted explicit messages that a young woman said she and Weiner exchanged starting in July 2012.

Weiner said on Thursday he was still "working with people" to get help dealing with his penchant for X-rated online flirting, but he disputed any suggestion that it's an addiction.

"I don't believe that it is. The people that I am working with don't believe that it is," he said.

Public  image

"The point is that it's behind me," he said. "I have worked through these things."

He admitted his sexting habit had extended into last year, as he and his wife tried to create a public image of a healing marriage after his resignation from Congress.

The woman who claims to have engaged in the online sex chats with Weiner, 23-year-old Sydney Leathers, confirmed her identity on Thursday and told Inside Edition that Weiner disgusted her.

"He's not who I thought he was," she told the show.

She said Weiner told her that he loved her, and she reciprocated. Asked what advice she would give him, she said, "Stop lying, stop embarrassing his wife and get help."

Leathers claimed Weiner started corresponding with her last July, more than a year after he stepped down from Congress and within weeks of a glowing People magazine cover story about his repaired marriage.

Urged to quit

While Weiner says he bets voters care more about their futures than his past, some appear to have deserted him in the first poll taken entirely after his latest indiscretions were revealed.

A new NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed he had fallen behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 25% to 16%, in the crowded Democratic field.

The poll surveyed 551 voters on Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. It also found 55% of Democrats now have an unfavourable impression of Weiner, while 30% see him favourably. The numbers were nearly the reverse of a June poll by the same entities.

"New York City Democrats were willing to give Anthony Weiner a second chance but are reluctant to excuse his behaviour now," Marist College polling director Lee Miringoff said in an analysis of the results.

Still, Democratic voters are roughly evenly split on whether he should drop out of the race, and on whether his digital dalliances will affect their votes.

He's been urged to quit the race by the editorial boards of The New York Times and the Daily News and by some rivals.

At least one former congressional colleague, Representative Jerrold Nadler, has said Weiner should abandon his campaign and "needs serious psychiatric help".

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Weiner's behaviour "reprehensible" and "disrespectful of women". But she said it was up to him to decide whether he should leave the mayor's race.

- AP


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