Unlike his widely discussed performance a night earlier, in which, according to media reports, Mr. Weiner looked bored and uninterested, in this room he flourished. He was welcomed as a returning hero. Mr. Weiner showed up a half hour ahead of time, taking the opportunity to greet voters, former colleagues and constituents.
Surrounded by Jewish fans and Orthodox journalists, Mr. Weiner was upbeat, pleasant and sarcastic.
Mr. Weiner reiterated his stance on Metitzah B’peh, as he had already expressed his view in 2005, speaking to reporters before the forum began. Coincidentally, Adam Dickter, editor of the NY Jewish Week, showed up as Mr. Weiner was discussing the issue, reminding him about the 2005 quote that was published in the Jewish Week at the time.
“I am not going to take any vote for granted,” he said. “If the people of this community want someone that understands their values deep in their kishkas, then they can vote for me.”
Speaking specifically about what he’ll do if elected mayor, Mr. Weiner promised to appoint a non-profit czar, somebody that would be a liaison to the ‘Yeshiva community’ and to the non-profit organizations that feed and provide the necessary programs to those in need. “I never would have sat idly by and let 63 parochial schools close around the city in the last several years. I would do whatever I could that those important institutions stay open,” he said.
Asked by Adam Dickter how he would overcome the negativity in prevailing over the Republican nominee in the general election, Mr. Weiner said, “People are aware of my personal failings. If people want to talk about it a little more, I’ll answer the questions. But I am going to try keep looking forward, keep talking about the issues that are important to the middle class and the issues of this community.”
During the forum, Mr. Weiner genuinely pleased the crowd, arguing his knowledge of the community’s needs and using continuously Hebrew and Yiddish phrases – such as Mikva, Kishkas and Eretz Yisroel. “While you may disagree with me on policy, one thing you can never say is that I don’t understand the Jewish community,” he said. Mr. Weiner also touted his fight for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a popular issue among pro- Israel Jews, twice during the forum.
Despite the rapturous reception, there’s little certainty that his charm offensive would compel Jewish voters to look at his candidacy as a given.
Many voters like Anthony Weiner. He’s energetic. He’s interactive. Yet they don’t seem to take his candidacy too seriously. At least not as a definite alternative to Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio, his two competitors for 2nd place in the runoff, who are considered the favorites in the Orthodox Jewish community.