By Mike Lillis - 07/24/13 05:00 PM EDT
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) should not drop out of New York City's mayoral race following news that he sent explicit messages to young strangers despite resigning from Congress two years ago for similar behavior. [WATCH VIDEO]
Rangel, a 22-term Harlem Democrat who has faced his own scandals in recent years, emphasized that it remains unclear how voters will react to the latest revelations surrounding his former colleague. But he suggested New Yorkers are simply more concerned with other issues.
"Knowing New York as I do — and I do know New York — this is not going to be a story by the time we get to September the 10th," Rangel added, referring to the date of the Democratic primary.
Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 following news that he'd sent lewd images of himself over social media to a number of young women he'd never met. Afterward, he entered the private sector and maintained a low profile until May, when he entered the contest to replace outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I).
At the time, Weiner had said there might be more scandalous images of him floating around the Internet. On Tuesday, they surfaced on The Dirty, a blog that posted sexually explicit exchanges between Weiner, who used the name "Carlos Danger," and a younger woman who is not his wife.
Weiner, 48, is married to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The couple has a young son.
In a remarkable press conference Tuesday in New York, Weiner took responsibility for "exchanging inappropriate things in the context of our marriage," but insisted the lewd antics are "behind me."
"We’re trying to move forward, and we recognize it’s not going to be easy," he said.
A nervous Abedin also addressed the press, saying her husband has "made some horrible mistakes both before he resigned from Congress and after."
"But," she added, "I do believe that is between us and our marriage.”
The editors of The New York Times disagreed, asking Weiner to step out of the mayoral contest in a scathing editorial published late Tuesday.
"The couple deserved privacy as they worked through their problems — and they had it, until they re-emerged in public life and Mr. Weiner decided he was a good fit to run New York City," they wrote.
Rangel, for his part, said the real victim of the episode is Abedin — "a brave woman" forced into a spotlight she prefers to shun.
"I have seen a lot of things like this in politics, where males have to lean on their wives for support. But I don't ever recall seeing a wife looking and feeling so sad and embarrassed, because Huma is a very private person, a very delicate, sophisticated person," Rangel told MSNBC.
"And all the years that I've known her, putting her into this political situation, as bright, as intelligent as she is, is very awkward. And my feelings were all for her in terms of what she felt she had to do for her husband. It's really a sad day."