Voters say Weiner can survive lewd photo scandal

By Karen Zraick

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 7 2011 11:11 a.m. MDT

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., leaves a news conference in New York Monday, June 6, 2011, where he confessed that he tweeted a bulging-underpants photo of himself to a young woman and admitted to "inappropriate" exchanges with six women before and after getting married.

John Minchillo, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

NEW YORK — Really, incredibly, stunningly stupid.

Voters in Rep. Anthony Weiner's home district in Brooklyn and Queens shook their heads in disbelief about the news that Weiner tearfully admitted to posting lewd photos of himself to women online. But most said Monday he would — and should — politically survive, saying they had voted for him before and would again. The seven-term Democratic congressman may have done something dumb, voters outside his district office in Queens said, but it wasn't criminal.

Weiner's confession to lying about posting a photo of his crotch on Twitter had been blown "way out of proportion," said Ralph Sepulveda, a 58-year-old film editor.

Weiner's record of fighting for his district balances his poor personal judgment, Sepulveda said.

"Politically I think he's very smart and I value his contributions to our Congress," Sepulveda said. "It was really stupid. I just don't think it's grounds for him to resign."

Sevan Jacoby, a 56-year-old airline supervisor and Weiner supporter, said constituent services and policy decisions outweigh the revelations about his personal life, however salacious.

"As long as he's doing what he's supposed to politically, who are we to judge?" said Jacoby, a Democrat. "Men will be men. Let his wife worry about it."

David Kraus, a 39-year-old restaurant manager, said a person's attempt to recover from a mistake is often more telling than the action itself.

"I think he did the right thing," said Kraus, a Democratic voter. "I kind of respected it at the end," because Weiner seemed raw and honest as he delivered his televised remarks.

"If that's the worst thing he's done, I don't have a problem. He didn't do anything except make himself look stupid."

Not every voter was as forgiving of the congressman.

Rosy Cuellar, a 39-year-old journalist, argued that his credibility had been undermined by the lies. Said Cuellar, also a Democrat: "I think he should resign."

Weiner vowed Monday not to resign, leaving himself at the mercy of voters in his district when he's up for re-election in 2012.

"I don't believe I did anything here that violates any law or violates my oath to my constituents," the 46-year-old congressman said.

He said he would go directly to voters to defend himself, as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation.

"I'm going to go back to work and I'm going to try to convince them that this was a personal failing," he said. "There wasn't anything about this I would say that changes my ability or my record of getting bills passed or filling potholes or fulfilling community service."

He didn't make a believer of Dan Tomback, 33, an investigator for a city agency and independent voter who had never been a fan of the congressman. But he couldn't think of any viable candidate to challenge him in the heavily Democratic district.

Like several voters in the district, he doesn't even count Weiner out for the 2013 mayoral race — once the media moves onto a different story.

"In New York," Tomback said, "people forget quickly."

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