Weiner rejects Clinton pressure

NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner’s relationship with the Clintons is fraying, but the former Democratic congressman declared Monday that it will not influence his decision to stay in the race for New York City mayor.  

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Weiner pushed back against criticism from Dee Dee Myers, a longtime senior adviser to the Clintons, while speaking to a crowd of reporters who showed up for a campaign event at a Chinese-American senior center in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens.

“I’m going to keep talking about the things important to this city. I don’t really care if a lot of pundits or politicians are offended by that,” he said.

Many Democrats fear Weiner’s campaign is becoming a national embarrassment for their party, and some worry he could tarnish their brand in the same way bumbling Tea Party candidates such as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) hurt Republicans in 2012.

Myers, who served as former President Clinton’s press secretary, said on CBS Sunday that Weiner’s campaign “is over, obviously” and is “not going to go anywhere.”

Weiner had a close relationship with the Clintons before resigning from Congress in June of 2011 after he admitted to sexual explicit online exchanges with several women around the country.

His wife, Huma Abedin, was a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, having served as her traveling chief of staff during the 2008 presidential campaign and later as deputy chief of staff at the State Department.

Bill Clinton officiated over Weiner’s and Abedin’s wedding at the Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island, in 2010.

The Clintons threw a lavish garden party, complete with a buffet of Middle Eastern food, for the couple at their Embassy Row home.

But now the Clintons are wincing over the relationship, according to Myers.

“Look, this isn't a story that anybody, particularly the Clintons, are happy to see splashed over the front pages and all over the news relentlessly,” Myers said. “And I think they, as much as anyone, would like to see this go away.

“And so, you know, if they could choose, they would certainly have Weiner get out of the race and Huma to get on with her life,” she added.

Republicans have tried to highlight the ties between Weiner and Abedin and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In a Monday email to reporters, Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, highlighted the Clinton’s discomfort over comparisons between Weiner and Bill Clinton, who was caught in his own sex scandal while president.

Dayspring accused Democrats of hypocrisy by accusing the GOP of waging a “war on women” while embracing politicians with infidelity issues.

"Therein lies the Democrats’ problem. Therein lies Hillary Clinton's problem. Their entire electoral strategy requires utilizing the 'War on Women' playbook, but every individual transgression is a reminder that most parents couldn’t trust Bill Clinton — the most powerful Democratic fundraiser and surrogate-in-chief for 2014 — in a room alone with their 21 year old daughter," he wrote.

Weiner said his wife is holding up well despite the growing strain with the Clintons and other party leaders.

“Huma’s doing great,” Weiner told reporters. 

Abedin has become a target of criticism herself since appearing alongside Weiner at a press conference last week to defend him in the wake of revelations that he continued sexting women after resigning from Congress.

She conceded that she knew her husband had continued his racy exchanges with other women online while he was planning a mayoral run.

“We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor,” she said. “I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as I’ve said from the beginning we are moving forward.”

Weiner said she “knew all along this process as I was more and more honest with her, I told her everything.”

Hillary Clinton has sought to distance herself from Abedin’s earnest defense of Weiner.

A source close to Clinton told CNN last week that the former secretary of State did not know she would launch a public defense.

“She didn’t know before she saw it on TV,” the source told CNN.

Weiner has also come under pressure from President Obama’s inner circle to abandon his candidacy.

David Axelrod, a longtime senior adviser to the president, called Weiner “delusional at this point” and said “he should go away.”

“He’s twice deceived them, lied about his activity, and why would you trust in someone who did that?” Axelrod said in an NBC interview of Weiner’s relationship with voters.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week called Weiner’s behavior “reprehensible” and disrespectful of women”.

Weiner later brushed off Pelosi’s criticism.

“Nancy Pelosi, she’s not going to have a chance to vote for me,” he said at a campaign event on Staten Island Friday.

He received a warm reception from a group of Chinese-American senior citizens at the Nan Shan Senior Center in the bustling midst of Flushing’s Chinatown.

Weiner said voters will determine his political fate, not the party’s establishment or newspaper editorial boards, who have called on him to halt his campaign.

“I don’t take my cues on policy from the Sunday talk shows listening to pundits, I never have. I don’t take my cues from the headline writers in the newspapers, I never have,” he declared.

Weiner declined to comment on his progress toward hiring a new campaign manager. His campaign chief Danny Kedem quit over the weekend after more of Weiner’s online conversations became public.

“I don’t announce when people come to my campaign, I don’t announce when they leave,” he said. 

After getting scolded by a middle-aged former gym teacher during an event on Staten Island, New York’s most conservative borough, Weiner has carefully picked his audiences.

His meeting with a predominantly African-American audience at the Brownville Community Baptist Church was friendly. Polls show he is doing well among African-American voters, who have been more forgiving of his personal problems than other groups of the electorate.

Weiner predicted the media storm over his personal life would eventually die down.

“Sooner or later you guys are going to make the decision, you know, we got to talk about housing, we got to talk about tax policy,” he told reporters.

—Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.