By Alexander Bolton and Alexandra Jaffe - 07/29/13 11:53 PM EDT
NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner’s relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton
is fraying, but the former Democratic congressman declared Monday the
tension will not influence his campaign for New York City mayor.
Weiner pushed back against criticism from Dee Dee Myers, a longtime senior adviser to the Clintons, who said the embattled candidate’s campaign has been sunk by the latest sexting scandal.
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 hurt Republicans in 2012.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week said the former congressman was “clueless” and called his actions “disrespectful of women.”
Multiple reports citing unnamed associates of Bill and Hillary Clinton say the former first couple is furious over comparisons between their marriage and the problems now engulfing Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin.
Abedin is 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.
A New York Post report Monday quoted an anonymous state Democrat saying the Clintons are “livid” at links being drawn to the way Abedin is handling her husband’s online cheating and how Hillary Clinton dealt with Bill Clinton’s affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Like Abedin, who publicly defended her husband, Hillary Clinton similarly stood by the president in the face of his 1998 impeachment.
“The Clintons are pissed off that Weiner’s campaign is saying that Huma is just like Hillary,’’ the Post reported. “How dare they compare Huma with Hillary?”
Myers, who served as former President Clinton’s press secretary, said on “CBS Sunday” that the Clintons are wincing over the Weiner scandal.
“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.”
Weiner’s campaign “is over, obviously,” Myers added.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found Weiner falling to fourth place in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary, with 16 percent support.
Despite the Clintons’ reported pique, former associates shot down concerns Weiner’s campaign for mayor could hurt the former secretary of State if she runs for president in 2016.
“By the time we get to even the beginnings of 2016, this will be so dead, so gone,” said Steve Elmendorf, a campaign surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 White House bid.
“I don’t buy the argument that this will ever have anything to do with Hillary Clinton, unless Anthony got elected mayor — which he’s not going to do.”
Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who is supporting an effort to draft Clinton for 2016, rejected comparisons between the situations facing Abedin and Clinton.
“I don’t think a lot of what happened in 1998 and 1999 has anything to do with what’s happening now,” she said.
“It’s a big leap to suggest that [Weiner’s race] has anything to do with [Clinton’s] potential presidential bid.”
William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Clinton, said, “The idea that their fates are somehow linked in any appreciable way is ridiculous.”
Weiner had a close relationship with the Clintons before resigning from Congress in June 2011 after he admitted to sexually explicit online exchanges with several women around the country.
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 for the newlyweds at their Embassy Row home.
But according to the Post, the Clintons are beginning to distance themselves from Abedin and Weiner partly out of concern for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 aspirations.
“Hillary didn’t know Huma would do this whole stand-by-your-man routine,” the Democratic source told the paper.
Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), argued Monday the Weiner and Clinton sex scandals would be an anchor on Democrats in 2014.
The philandering undermines Democratic charges the GOP is waging a “war on women” in Congress, Dayspring said in an email.
“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,” Dayspring said.
In a previous email, Dayspring cited a tweet from New York Times columnist Frank Rich saying the Weiner scandal was doing “no favor to Hillary ‘16.”
William Chafe, a Duke University history professor who has written on the Clintons, said the long-past Lewinsky scandal isn’t likely to be problematic for either the former president or his wife.
“I think the American public is happy to let bygones be bygones as long as nothing new happens with the Clintons,” he said.
Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, dismissed the GOP claims of a 2014 impact.
“The GOP’s war on women is about issues like Republicans voting against bills to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work, voting against bills that offer women protections against domestic violence, and voting for bills that restrict a woman’s right to make decisions about her own healthcare,” Barasky said in an email to The Hill.
“If the NRSC believes otherwise, all that does is show they’ve learned absolutely nothing from last cycle and they’re poised to make the exact same mistakes they did in 2012.”
Myers said the Weiner controversy has been “very painful for the Clintons” who are “genuinely very close to Huma.”
But Weiner said Monday his wife is holding up well.
“Huma’s doing great,” he said.