9 Aug 2013

Sext pest: as Anthony Weiner loses it with reporter

It’s clearly getting to him. New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner rounds on an ITV reporter on a campaign stop in Harlem – as the sexting scandal sends his poll ratings through the floor.

It’s headlines like these that Anthony Weiner could do without: “Candidate finds a new way to offend people”. “Another day, another lesson from Anthony Weiner on how not to run for mayor of a major American city”.

The former Democratic congressman’s chances of becoming New York’s next mayor have been crumbling fast since it emerged that he had sent lewd messages and sexually explicit photographs of himself to not one, but several women, none of whom were his wife.

So when ITV Daybreak reporter Lucy Watson tried to ask him a few questions during a canvassing event in Harlem, he snapped.

“It’s hard to take you seriously,” he complained, adding: “I’ve had a feeling I’ve stepped into a Monty Python movie.” As Ms Watson persisted, he turned even more petulant. “I don’t know, would anything stop me? Now is a rock going to fall on my head?”

I’ve a feeling I’ve stepped into a Monty Python movie. Anthony Weiner

In a final bid at restoring a sense of humour, he delivered a mock weather forecast.

That wasn’t the end of it. Later that morning, Weiner publicly upbraided one of his staffers in full glare of the cameras, over some paperwork he wasn’t satisfied with. “This is NG, not great, not great”, he told a young assistant. “Oh boy, this is not as well organised as I like”.

He then turned on a reporter from NBC who was covering his campaign, declaring “Dude, you got to get a hobby.” He didn’t get a much warmer response from voters either. According to Real Clear Politics reporter Scott Conroy, one woman told him: “I already said I didn’t want to meet you. Please stop knocking on my door”.

Weiner has been sliding in the polls since the latest sexting revelations emerged, plummeting from a commanding lead to a dismal fourth place with just 10 per cent of support.

A Quinnipiac University poll last month of likely New York voters found a majority wanted him to drop out of the race, a message he has defiantly – some would say arrogantly – ignored.

The young woman he exchanged raunchy messages with, Sydney Leathers, is now endorsing his main rival for the Democratic nomination, Christine Quinn, who is comfortably ahead in the polls.

And earlier this week he got into more hot water, after an argument with a Republican rival at an event organised by the American Association of Retired People. As the row got heated, he branded George McDonald “grandpa”.

The AARP was not impressed, describing his age-related insult as “unfortunate”.

Not as unfortunate as Anthony Weiner’s political fortunes are looking – as his ratings hit their lowest yet.

Felicity Spector writes about US affairs for Channel 4 News