Anthony Weiner vows to stay in the race for New York City mayor despite the loss of his campaign manager and the drumbeat of critics questioning his fitness for public office after new revelations of lewd online behaviour.
Weiner confirmed that campaign manager Danny Kedem resigned on Saturday (local time) after reports surfaced that Weiner had continued to exchange lewd photos and messages with women despite resigning from Congress in 2011 over the same behaviour
"We have an amazing staff, but this isn't about the people working on the campaign. It's about the people we're campaigning for," Weiner said after speaking at a Brooklyn church.
Weiner said he would keep talking about "ideas for the middle class and people struggling to make it every single day" and added: "We knew this was going to be a tough campaign."
Kedem had managed the re-election of John DeStefano Jr to a 10th term as mayor of New Haven in 2011 and worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's failed 2008 presidential campaign.
The 31-year-old Kedem was credited with helping Weiner pull into the lead among the crowded field of Democratic primary candidates before the latest revelations about Weiner's raunchy online exchanges with women.
Christine Quinn, who is bidding to be the city's first female mayor, led the race before Weiner jumped in but slipped behind him in most polls over the past two months. But a one-day poll conducted after Weiner's latest revelations has Quinn leading Weiner in the race for the Democratic nomination. The mayoral primary is September 10, and the general election is November 5. The primary winner needs to get at least 40 per cent of the vote to avoid a runoff with the No. 2 vote-getter.
Quinn, who is speaker of the New York City Council, said on NBC television's Meet the Press that Weiner has shown "a pattern of reckless behaviour, an inability to tell the truth and a real lack of maturity and responsibility".
Unlike other candidates who have urged Weiner to end his campaign, Quinn said opponents should not "say who should or shouldn't get in and out of races".
But she questioned whether he is the right person to lead the city.
"Has he disqualified himself? Yes, he's disqualified himself," Quinn said. "But not just because of these scandals, though that certainly has. He didn't have the qualifications when he was in Congress."
Later on the NBC programme, David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, accused Weiner of "wasting time and space". Axelrod, who noted that his former firm is working for another mayoral candidate, said Americans "believe in second chances, but not third chances".
On CNN's State of the Union, Republican US Rep. Peter King, the target of a blistering 2010 attack from Weiner over a bill to provide free medical services for World Trade Center recovery workers, said Weiner is "not psychologically qualified to be mayor of the city of New York".
Weiner was forced to discuss his online behaviour this past week after a gossip website printed excerpts of conversations Weiner had with Indiana college student Sydney Leathers last summer.
With his wife, Huma Abedin, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, alongside, Weiner apologised and promised that the "behaviour is behind me". He later admitted that he had traded racy messages with at least three women since leaving office.
He vowed to stay in the race, saying he believed "people care more about their futures than my past with my wife and my embarrassing things".
William Eimicke, a Columbia University professor of public management who has held New York City and New York state government posts, said the defection of his campaign manager could cripple Weiner's campaign.
"I think he's toast!" Eimicke wrote in an email.
But veteran city political consultant Bob Liff discounted the effect of the resignation.
"I don't know that the campaign manager makes that much of a difference," Liff said. "I wouldn't write anybody out."