(WASHINGTON) — 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,” he 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?’” Weiner said.
He added, “We have been in a defensive crouch for so long. We are ready to clear the decks on this thing.” Weiner was referring to the 2011 scandal that scuttled his rising political career after he sent sexually suggestive images of himself to a woman who was “following” him on Twitter.
The magaqzine interview is the first time Weiner, 48, has spoken in detail about his return to politics or the scandal. He adds 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.’”
Weiner’s political committee has spent more than $100,000 on polling and research on whether a comeback is 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,” he said.
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, Weiner 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.”
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