A beaming Anthony Weiner took his mayoral campaign down the Celebrate Israel parade route today. Wielding a large Israeli flag with one hand and a bullhorn in the other, the newly-minted candidate appeared to be in his element.
“Am Yisrael Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!” he bellowed every few feet as he strode up Fifth Avenue, using the Hebrew slogan touting Israel’s continued existence. “God bless America! Am Yisrael Chai! Welcome to New York!”
The parade amounted to a homecoming for Mr. Weiner, a Democrat who made championing hawkish, pro-Israeli foreign policies a key part of his brand in Congress–up until an infamous sexting scandal led to his resignation in 2011, that is. At the height of the controversy two years ago, Mr. Weiner made a very prominent decision to skip the parade to avoid the negative scrutiny that would come during such a public event.
Today, however, Mr. Weiner simply said it was “great to be back.”
“This is a great day,” the candidate said as he marched. “Before I stepped aside, I had come to this parade every single year. It’s one of [the] real joys of my schedule, so it’s great to be back.”
Yet the scandal’s lingering fallout also showed up along the route. Mr. Weiner was booed by the crowd a few times, for example. A group of women once yelled, “Ewwww!”
“Hey Weiner, tweet me a picture!” one heckler shouted. “Tweet me a picture! Tweet me a picture, Weiner!”
“I love Weiner!” another parade-goer declared. When Politicker inquired about his support, he clarified: “I was joking.”
But none of this seemed to slow Mr. Weiner, who was met with plenty of fans as well. One of the announcers labeled him “a great friend of Israel” as he marched by, and Mr. Weiner received cheers as he routinely approached the sidelines to banter with the revelers.
“I am supporting him for mayor,” one man who declined to give his name told Politicker after shouting his support. “I think he’s the most qualified candidate.”
“Everybody makes mistakes,” said another supporter named Jack. “The man can and has served well the people of New York City. What he does in his private life, whatever else he’s done in the past, I’m willing to overlook for the sake of New York City.”
And, when it was all over, Mr. Weiner thanked his team for sticking by him, as well.
“Alright Team Weiner, muster over here for a second!” he beckoned. “I don’t know about you, but I thought it was great. That was a great great parade you guys did, thank you very much–especially the guys holding that big monstrosity.”
Mr. Weiner then gestured to the volunteer holding the “WEINER!” campaign sign.
“You know, some people grow up to be astronauts. Some people dream of playing in baseball games,” he quipped. “Some people dream of growing up to carry a giant Weiner-exclamation-point banner. But thanks for doing it.”