At a senior forum, Weiner tilts at the G.O.P. and ‘Grandpa’ George McDonald
"You can boo me if you like, but I ask you just for 30 seconds without booing," George McDonald, a Republican candidate for mayor, requested of a few hundred seniors at a mayoral forum hosted by AARP on Tuesday morning.
A short while earlier, McDonald had brought up Anthony Weiner's "values," which incited lusty boos from the packed auditorium of senior citizens.
"I think that's something we all ought to talk about: What are our values as a city?" said McDonald, diverging from a question about small-business fines to return to the subject. "And believe me, it's not nice to talk about. I can't even have a nice conversation with my 10-year-old granddaughter about why one person 'is so much more famous than you, Grandpa. What did he do? Why don't you do what he did?'"
At that point, which was right around 30 seconds after McDonald had made his request, the crowd rained down boos again, while Weiner sat silently a few seats away. (The new reportedly exchanged words before the event, with Weiner calling him ... Grandpa.)
If the new revelations about Weiner's sexual conversations have hurt him in the polls, it hasn't exactly shown on the forum circuit. McDonald tried a similar tack last week, calling Weiner a "self-pleasuring freak," with similar results.
At the AARP forum, the large crowd of reliable, elderly voters seemed more receptive to Weiner's shtick than to McDonald's criticism.
The questions were the predictable forum topics—stop-and-frisk, health care, small businesses—and Weiner did his usual routine, standing to answer every question except one, when the candidates were asked to address the biggest misconception about them.
"The biggest misconception about me is that I'm incapable of answering a question unless I'm standing up," Weiner said. "It's just not true."
He spoke forcefully about everything from health care to the perils of crossing New York City streets (a subject that regularly draws approving reactions from senior crowds), and the crowd generally responded with loud applause. And, even before McDonald's barbs, Weiner had attacked the Republican candidates for their answers on immigration.
"It's fascinating to listen to my opponents in the Republican Party talk about immigration reform. It's their party … that's standing in the way of reform," he said, to applause. Later, someone yelled "Bravo!" after his answer on curtailing small-business fines, which were denounced by all the candidates.
The crowd seemed partial to John Liu too, who made a crack about Weiner without inciting the same kind of wrath, when he ended his closing statement by saying, "and you can rest assured I won't take pictures of myself."
The seniors also applauded loudly when Liu used the "misconception" question to offer an impassioned defense against allegations about his fund-raising, which led to the city Campaign Finance Board's decision to block him from getting public matching funds for his campaign.
"Mayor Bloomberg and Chris Quinn, they try to deny me out of my matching funds," he said, adding, "This campaign is not about the money, this campaign is about the people, and the strength of our volunteers."
Public advocate Bill de Blasio made a point to note the absence of Quinn in his own closing statement, as reporters began to decamp for another Weiner event a couple blocks away.
Asked about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech this morning, Weiner said he hadn't heard it, because "I was getting cheered for the last hour-and-a-half."