From Jonathan Lemire:
Weiner held the first official event of his unlikely mayoral campaign at a Harlem subway stop early Thursday, then boarded a packed train to the West Village.
Trailed by a crush of reporters and photographers, Weiner drew stares — and some cheers — from flabbergasted onlookers as he led the press caravan on a 16-block walk through the West Village and SoHo to a radio studio where he was scheduled for an interview.
“Oh my God, that’s Anthony Weiner!” exclaimed one man into his cellphone as he spotted the ex-Congressman walking along 7th Ave.
He encountered several children on their way to school and told them: “Tell your parents you met me, that I seem like a nice guy, and that they should vote for me.”
Most passerby greeted Weiner warmly, though it was impossible to tell if they were just drawn to his celebrity rather than his policies… One woman yelled “You got my vote, Weiner!”
Politicker’s Jill Colvin writes the response from voters was largely positive.
“You are the only one who’s able to work with Congress and do something for the city,” said Abdoulaye Fious, 58, who was among those able to make it through the crowd. “He’s much better than anybody else running,” Mr. Fious told Politicker. “He’s part of the city.”
“I’m with you!” shouted another supporter, Sam Morell, 70, who said that he came out to try to meet Mr. Weiner after hearing about the appearance on television, and had hoped to volunteer for the campaign. However, after “seeing this crazy madness, with all the photographers, I have to think about it.”
“To tell you the truth, he has a big mouth and he doesn’t take any s*** from anybody. I mean, he says what he means. He’s a politician, but he’s not a politician,” Mr. Morell explained, dismissing the scandal. “We all make mistakes. It doesn’t matter. I mean, he wasn’t caught with his finger in the pot. He sent out a few photographs a couple of years ago. If Clinton can get away with it.”
Linda Smalls, another voter, said that she was “unenthused” by the whole field of candidates, but that Mr. Weiner would have her vote. “I like the work that he’s done in the past. Even though he made a mistake. We’re human. He’s human. He apologized for it. I think it’s time to move on,” she said. She was also apparently a fan of his lewd messages.
“Instead of a hug, I really wanted a text!” she exclaimed.
In fact, Mr. Weiner encountered just one angry voter who identified himself only as “Done—as in complete, finish.”
“Mr. Weiner, is this just for publicity?!” he demanded, before asking the ex-councilman a much tamer question about what he’d do to stop technology taking over the workforce. “Go ahead Mr. Weineeeer!” he shouted once Mr. Mr. Weiner was done.
Restaurant worker Joe Albaines told the AP he thought the Democrat would make a good mayor.
“He’s a family man. And I think he cares about the middle class,” said Albaines. “I remember the scandal that he went through. But, like I said, that’s between him and his wife.”
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Weiner addressed his tweeting scandal, saying he wants people to give him a second chance.
“Ultimately, this is going to be up to the voters to decide,” he said, according to Politicker. “I think what I learned today here at the subway stop is that people are going to make their determination based on the interests that they think are important. If citizens want to talk to me about my personal failings, that’s their right. And I’m going to do everything I can to answer them.”
But, he said, “I have to tell you, I was at the subway here for a while and people basically wanted to talk about issues and the challenges that we have.”
“I frankly have been encouraged by how many people say they’re prepared to give me a second chance and just listen to my ideas,” Weiner added.