It’s a tricky business, this capitalizing on an opponent’s bad fortunes, and on Thursday night, Republican candidate George McDonald blew it. At the same time, at least to hear The New York Times and Newsday tell it, Anthony Weiner sort of got his mojo back. Or at least, he got the crowd on his side at a mayoral forum in Queens, thanks to McDonald’s clumsy attack. After an exchange in which Weiner promised to make the mayor’s office more accessible to those in the outer boroughs, and McDonald “spent most of his allotted two minutes expressing disgust with Mr. Weiner,” Weiner brushed him off, saying, “I’ve had a lot of people chirping at the fringes.” That’s when McDonald lost it.
The Times’ Kate Taylor captured the scene nicely:
When it was Mr. McDonald’s turn to speak again, responding to Mr. Weiner’s dismissal of his criticism as “chirping from the fringes,” he shot back at him: “My values are not fringe values. My values represent the values of the people of the City of New York, not this self-pleasuring … freak!”
The audience began booing loudly, as Mr. McDonald fought to speak over them. “Well, he is — he is,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. He eats up all of the oxygen in the room.” There was more booing, as Mr. McDonald struggled to be heard. “Let me tell you something, this is America. I have paid for the right — my name is on the ballot — ”
At this, the moderator warned that Mr. McDonald would have to stop or he would have his mike disconnected. The audience applauded.
So Weiner scored some points, and he immediately let the phalanx of press know it. “On his way out, for the first time in three nights, Weiner did not run away from waiting reporters,” according to Newsday. And when a reporter asked him about voters’ concerns over his resignation from Congress, he lorded his recent success: “If you were up there talking today, you would get booed, right? That’s what happened when people raised the scandal.” Look out, someone’s feeling his oats!