Disgraced tweeter Anthony Weiner eyes a comeback

Disgraced tweeter Anthony Weiner eyes a comeback

Disgraced tweeter Anthony Weiner eyes a comeback

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by SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

ABC NEWS

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM

(ABC NEWS) -- Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner is considering a run for mayor, according to an extensive interview in the New York Times magazine that includes his wife Huma Abedin.

And Weiner is very much looking to put his scandalous Twitter sexting misadventures behind him.

“I don’t have this burning, overriding desire to go out and run for office,” Weiner told the magazine. “It’s not the single animating force in my life as it was for quite some time. But I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something.

“I’m trying to gauge not only what’s right and what feels comfortable right this second, but I’m also thinking, ‘How will I feel in a year or two years or five years?’ Is this the time that I should be doing it?’”

He added: “We have been in a defensive crouch for so long. We are ready to clear the decks on this thing,” referring to the 2011 scandal that scuttled his rising political career after he sent sexually suggestive images of himself to woman who was “following” him on Twitter.

The Times interview is the first time he has spoken in detail about his return to politics or the scandal, becoming emotional at times.

Weiner, 48, said it’s not just about now or never, but that he wants to engage  the people he “let down.”

“Also, I want to ask people to give me a second chance,” he said. “I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down and with people who put their faith in me and who wanted to support me. I think to some degree I do want to say to them, ‘Give me another chance.’”

His political committee has spent more than $100,000 on polling and research on whether a comeback was possible. David Binder, President Obama’s longtime pollster, did the work. The focus of the poll, Binder told the magazine, was, “Are voters willing to give him a second chance or not, regardless of what race or what contest?”

Binder found a positive response, but with conditions.

“There was this sense of, ‘Yeah, he made a mistake. Let’s give him a second chance But there are conditions on that, and there are a couple of things we’re going to want to know: What have you been doing since this incident occurred? Did you learn anything from this mistake? How did you deal with it?’ They want to know that they’ve put it behind them.”

Weiner acknowledged that he’s an “underdog,” but also admitted that he was looking at a run for New York City comptroller as well.

“And there’s a healthy number of people who will never get over it. … It’s a little complicated because I always attracted a fairly substantial amount of people who didn’t like me anyway,” he said.

As for the scandal, which began as a tweet that was supposed to be a direct message, he blamed it on “wanting people’s approval” and said, “For a thoughtful person, it’s remarkable how little thought I really gave to it until it was too late.”

“I wasn’t really thinking,” Weiner said. “What does this mean that I’m doing this? Is this risky behavior? Is this smart behavior? To me, it was just another way to feed this notion that I want to be liked and admired.”

He said Twitter enabled the scandal, and if there had been no tweeting, “it’s not like I would have gone out cruising bars or something like that. It was just something that technology made possible and it became possible for me to do stupid things.”

The famously media shy Abedin admitted to speaking to Hillary Clinton about what happened, saying she had the entire Clinton family’s support.

“At the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make that are right for her and not be judged by it,” Abedin told the Times.

The profile, widely seen as the beginning of his entry back into public life, comes on the same day a Quinnipiac University poll on the mayor’s race showing that front-runner City Council Speaker Christine Quinn still leads, but has slipped.

As for Weiner, who lost the 2005 mayoral primary, the one thing he does have going for him is leftover campaign money. He filed a disclosure form in March with the NYC Campaign Finance Board,  showing a balance of roughly $4.3 million. About half the donations came from New York City residents and a little less from outside the city, with the most recent coming in early May 2009, when he appeared to be a mayoral candidate again but ultimately took a pass.

The $4.3 million is not a bad place to start, but it’s also unclear whether the scandal would impede his ability to raise more.

ABC News’ Rick Klein and Elizabeth Hartfield contributed to this report. Click here for more from ABC News.

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