Weiner rejects calls to quit as female texting partner is identified

A number of media outlets on Thursday identified the woman who received explicit text messages from former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) as he rejected calls to withdraw from the New York City mayoral race.

CNN said a 23-year-old Evansville, Ind., native named Sydney Elaine Leathers is the most recent recipient of Weiner’s “sexting.” A male friend of Leathers decided to go public with the information after she backed out of a plan to blackmail Weiner.

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Nik Richie, the owner of the gossip website that first published Weiner’s latest round of lewd exchanges, talked publicly for the first time on Wednesday, saying that Weiner and Leathers “spoke daily on the phone.”

“They told each other they loved each other,” Richie told HuffPostLive.com.

According to Richie, Weiner promised Leathers that he’d rent a “secret bunker” in Chicago where the two could meet up for sexual trysts. Richie said Weiner led the young woman to believe that his marriage to Huma Abedin was “more of a staged marriage for political gain.”

On Tuesday, Weiner admitted to sending explicit messages under the alias “Carlos Danger” to young women he met on the Internet well after a similar 2011 scandal drove him from office. Despite the controversy, Weiner said he would not withdraw from the New York City mayoral race, as he strives to relaunch his political career.

On Wednesday, Weiner told reporters he was “fine,” and that New York voters should have the chance to decide if he was fit for the mayor’s office, according to reports.

Weiner told reporters that voters wanted to hear him discuss the issues facing the city. 

“When people talk to me on the street, they don't want to talk about something in my past; they want to talk about their future,” he said. 

“I have posited this whole campaign on a bet and that is, at the end of the day, citizens are more interested in the challenge they face in their lives than anything that I have done embarrassing in my past,” Weiner added.

A number of Democratic lawmakers though moved to distance themselves from Weiner and the scandal, urging him to end his campaign.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Weiner should drop out and seek professional help. Fellow New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D) said that the scandal had become a “total distraction.”

But Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Weiner should stay in the race and predicted that New York voters would not care about the latest sexting scandal by the primary. 

Rangel, though, was careful not to excuse Weiner’s behavior, adding that “nobody that I know understands at all what Anthony Weiner was thinking about.”

The New York Times, in a blistering editorial on Wednesday, ripped Weiner for “a repellent pattern of misleading and evasion.”

“Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City,” the editorial board wrote.

At a press conference on Tuesday, accompanied by his wife, Weiner addressed the latest allegations, saying that “some of these things happened before my resignation, some of them after."

“I have said that other texting photos might come out, and today they have,” he added. “These things were wrong and hurtful to my wife.”

Weiner did not give a detailed timeline of when the inappropriate messaging ended, but on Tuesday said it was “entirely behind” him when he decided to run for mayor. He said he has been “more than honest” with Abedin about the timeline of events.

Abedin spoke out in defense of her husband, saying “Anthony has made some horrible mistakes,” but that the couple has worked through their problems and moved on.

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