NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner on Tuesday vowed to stay in the race despite admitting sending sexually explicit messages and photos to women even after the online sex chat scandal that cost him his congressional seat.
With his wife standing by his side, Weiner told a news conference he had sent some of the newly revealed lewd chats and pictures, published this week by a gossip website, but appeared determined to disappoint opponents asking him to bow out.
“I want to bring my vision to the people of the city of New York. I hope they are willing to still continue to give me a second chance,” Weiner said shortly after the racy correspondence surfaced.
Weiner, 48, resigned from the U.S. Congress in June 2011 after admitting he used Twitter and other social media to send lewd pictures of himself to women he met online.
Earlier Tuesday, Weiner was vague about the timing and sequence of events, saying in a statement that “some things that have been posted … are true and some are not.”
“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” he said.
Tuesday’s admission concerned a series of suggestive chats published by gossip website TheDirty.com on Monday. The website said it obtained the chats and images from a young woman in her early 20s, whose name it withheld.
The website said chats between the two began in July 2012 and extended into this year. He told the news conference that some of the texts revealed had been sent after his resignation.
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, a close aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, smiled during the press conference and spoke about why she will continue to support him.
“I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as he has said from the beginning, ‘We are moving forward,’” Abedin said.
The development could complicate Weiner’s campaign for mayor less than two months before the September 10 Democratic primary.
Weiner has been running neck-and-neck in public opinion polls with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but many voters surveyed say they have an unfavorable view of him.
Candidate Bill Thompson, which many polls see in third place, said the incident was “deeply disturbing”
“Anthony Weiner needs to think of the people of the city of New York first and not of himself,” he told Reuters.
Another of his mayoral opponents, Bill de Blasio, who ranks at the back of the crowded race, called on Weiner to withdraw from the race in light of the latest revelations.
“The sideshows of this election have gotten in the way of the debate we should be having about the future of this city. And yes, I’m talking about Anthony Weiner. Enough is enough,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Launching his mayoral campaign in May, Weiner said he hoped voters would give him a second chance and pledged to be an advocate for the working class. Commentators said New Yorkers may not be as forgiving as he hopes.
“Voters are going to say, ‘What is wrong with this guy?’” said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of political science at Baruch College. “It demonstrates some kind of real psychological problem.”
Muzzio noted that Weiner, once a popular six-term Congressman representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, was being evasive, the same way he was when the scandal first broke and he took days to admit the images and messages were his.
Weiner’s wife has publicly stood by him and in recent days joined him on the campaign trail. The couple had a son six months after Weiner’s resignation.
“As I have said in the past, these things that I did were wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress,” Weiner said.