There have already been dozens of forums and debates in this year's race for mayor, but tonight's was the first to feature the newest entrant in the race, former Rep. Anthony Weiner. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
In some ways, Anthony Weiner's first appearance at a mayoral forum Thursday night was fairly ordinary, a stump speech that touched on issues like the shrinking middle class and the need to reform health care. But it came paired with an apology.
"I believe we need some big ideas on how to deal with these problems, and I want to talk to people," Weiner said. "But it's going to be hard for me to talk about them without saying something to you first. I'm sorry."
In perhaps a preview of what's to come on the campaign trail, Weiner briefly, and contritely, acknowledged his sexting scandal, but without delving into details, pivoting instead right into his policy ideas.
You put a great deal of hope and confidence in me, and I did some very embarrassing things, and I regret them. And I've worked very hard over the last couple of years to make it up to my wife, to help raise my son as best I can. But I want to look forward, and I want to make this city great, and greater every single day."
Not everyone in the audience at the Benjamin Franklin Democratic Club Thursday seemed ready to give Weiner their vote, but most seemed willing to move past the scandal and judge him on his ideas.
"I thought it took courage," said one person at the forum. "Maybe it is all behind him."
"His homage to contrition was sincere, and I think New York should give him a chance," said a second.
"The man is bright. The man is good. The man was stupid," said a third. "I don't think that would be the reason that I would not vote for him."
Most of Weiner's Democratic rivals have barely acknowledged Weiner's candidacy. The exception is Democrat Sal Albanese. His campaign was handing out a flier Thursday night, an invoice for $350,000 billable to Anthony Weiner, which was the cost of the 2011 special election to replace him in Congress after he resigned. It was the consequence, the flier says, of the last time Weiner asked New Yorkers to trust him as a public servant.