Weiner: I messaged up to 3 women after resigning
NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner said Thursday that he'd traded racy messages with as many as three women since similar sexting forced him out of Congress. But as he tried to tamp down questions about his behavior, a poll suggested the new disclosures were taking a toll on his mayoral prospects and the House's top Democrat excoriated him.
Facing a third day of renewed queries and criticism of his conduct as he continued campaigning, the married Democrat also said he supposed he'd had sexually charged exchanges with six to 10 women while serving in Congress; he'd said previously there were about six.
Weiner, the former congressman who resigned in 2011 after the first batch of sexts surfaced, is running for New York mayor and had been competitive in most polls of the Democratic primary race until the latest furor over his behavior began this week when the gossip website The Dirty posted explicit messages that a woman said she and Weiner sent each other starting in July 2012.
The scandal got seamier Thursday when The Dirty posted an unredacted crotch shot that it said Weiner sent to a woman last year.
Weiner said 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 as reporters questioned him after a campaign event.
"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 strove to create a public image of a healing marriage after his 2011 resignation from Congress.
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.
Before the revelations, Weiner had been near the top of most polls gauging the Democratic mayoral primary race. But a new NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed he had fallen behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the crowded Democratic field.
Quinn leads him 25 percent to 16 percent among registered Democratic voters, among registered Democratic voters, according to the poll, which surveyed 551 such voters Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. It found Weiner roughly even with city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, both at 14 percent; results were similar among likely Democratic voters.
The poll also found 55 percent of registered Democrats now have an unfavorable impression of Weiner, while 30 percent see him favorably. The numbers were nearly the reverse of a June poll by the same entities, which tallied a 52-36 percent favorable-to-unfavorable split then.
"New York City Democrats were willing to give Anthony Weiner a second chance but are reluctant to excuse his behavior 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, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese, both Democrats, and billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, a Republican.
At least one former New York congressional colleague, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., also has said Weiner should abandon his campaign and "needs serious psychiatric help."
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Weiner's behavior "reprehensible" and "disrespectful of women." But she said it was up to him to decide whether he should leave the mayor's race.