New York Democrats are making lawmakers in Washington look like paragons of civility.
Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer are on the comeback campaign trail following sex scandals that derailed their careers. But the races have gotten ugly very fast on all fronts—between the candidates themselves, their staff, and Republicans trying to nationalize these Dems’ sexual misadventures.
Scott Stringer, who’s in a heated race with Spitzer for city comptroller, is launching the rhetorical equivalent of nuclear war on his opponent, releasing a web ad on Wednesday showing footage of then-Gov. Spitzer’s infamous press conference in which he resigned after admitting he had sex with prostitutes.
“You know how it ended,” the narrator begins over images of this presser at the start of the ad, titled “Colossal Failure.” The ad continues: “Here’s how it began,” ripping Spitzer’s budget during his time in office as a “fiscal disaster” and bringing up “Troopergate,” in which Spitzer was accused of deploying state police to spy on his political foes.
Spitzer, meanwhile, perhaps trying to distance himself from any below-the-belt politics, had some unfriendly words for Weiner. He told Hardball earlier this week that Weiner should not be mayor of New York and that he would prosecute a case like Weiner’s in his oversight capacity as city comptroller.
Enter front-runner mayoral candidate Christine Quinn. Spitzer’s remarks prompted the city council speaker to call out Spitzer, insisting he isn’t “in the position to be pointing fingers at anybody as it relates to their private lives.” She also took a shot at her opponent, declaring Weiner has shown a “pattern of reckless behavior and a pattern of an inability to tell the truth.”
But Weiner has it far worse than Spitzer. The former governor is at the top of polls in his race, while Weiner—once in first place—has sunk to fourth among Democratic voters following new sexting revelations. His campaign, meanwhile, is imploding.
Sydney Leathers, the woman at the center of the scandal, is dishing out unflattering details about Weiner. The Clintons may be distancing themselves from Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin, who is sticking by her husband. Abedin, who worked for Hillary Clinton ever since she was an intern in 1996 (and used Clinton’s powerful political connections to raise money for her husband’s comeback), is planning to take a break from her job as the former secretary of state’s transition office chief, Politico reported.
Weiner’s staff seems frazzled too. His campaign manager stepped down last weekend, and his communications manager went on an expletive-filled rant against intern Olivia Nuzzi, who spoke about the inner workings of the Weiner campaign.
Weiner campaign spokeswoman Barbara Morgan described Nuzzi to Talking Points Memo as a “slutbag,” “t—” and a “c—” after Nuzzi wrote a tell-all piece on the campaign for the New York Daily News.
Morgan later apologized in a statement to NBC News, saying “ In a moment of frustration, I used inappropriate language in what I thought was an off the record conversation. It was wrong and I am very sorry, which is what I said tonight when I called and emailed Olivia to apologize.”
Despite calls from several in his own party to step down, Weiner doesn’t seem to be budging. He released a new ad promising to forge ahead.
“I know that there are newspaper editors and other politicians that say, ‘Boy, I wish that guy Weiner would quit,” he said. “They don’t know New York. They certainly don’t know me. Quit isn’t the way we roll in New York City.”
Republicans are also trying to make the races a national issue aimed at tarnishing Democrats. They have pointed to Spitzer, Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, accused of sexually harassing at least eight women, as supposed proof that the real War on Women is being perpetrated by Democrats, in a spin off of what the left says is an effort by the GOP to curb the reproductive rights of women.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement that “Democrats invoke the ‘War on Women’ charge repeatedly, but they head for the hills when asked about their Democratic colleagues’ actual mistreatment of women.”
Of course, in the case of Democrats, any mistreatment of women seems to be on behalf of individual lawmakers rather than policy platforms aimed at eradicating women’s rights.