Elsie Thompson Definitively Goes Public

Elsie Thompson and Randi Weingarten talk education.

Elsie Thompson and Randi Weingarten talk education.

In the wake of Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal, at least one of his rivals in the mayor’s race is doubling down on his less headline-grabbing family life.

For the first time today, former Comptroller Bill Thompson’s campaign released a separate schedule for his wife, Elsie McCabe Thompson, who began her first day on the trail at a special needs school in Lower Manhattan.

Huddled in a brightly lit room of P94M in Battery Park, Ms. Thompson avidly listened to principal Ronnie Shuster describe the programs offered at her school. She was joined by Randi Weingarten, the former president of the powerful city teachers’ union and now president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Ms. Thompson–dressed in a lemon-lime cardigan–said the visit had a special meaning for her.

“I reached out to Randi and said that I wanted to visit a school like this,” Ms. Thompson told reporters. “I’ve had, personally, a number of undiagnosed–until I was an adult–learning disabilities myself.”

During the conversation with Ms. Shuster, which ran longer than the anticipated thirty minutes, a story about a young man with learning disabilities, who played an Oompa Loompa in a school musical, brought both Ms. Weingarten and Ms. Thompson to tears.

“Where’s the tissues?” Ms. Weingarten asked as the two tried to recover. Soon after, the group rose to begin the remainder of their scheduled tour, leaving a table of rugala, orange juice and grapes in their wake.

The support of Ms. Weingarten and the city’s teacher union are expected to give Mr. Thompson a significant boost as campaign season revs into high gear. In fact, when Politicker asked why Ms. Thompson had decided to join the trail so publicly at this point in time, she responded that she had been around for a while but that the day’s events had been driven by Ms. Weingarten’s availability. (She has made appearances both on her own and with her husband, including the day, she said, he was endorsed by the UFT.)

“I’ve been on the trail for a while. You just didn’t know about it,” Ms. Thompson said, a smile spreading across her face. “I’m just starting to go public.”

Still, she dismissed speculation that her presence had anything to do with recent developments in the ongoing online Anthony Weiner scandal.

“We actually were talking to each other this week before the disclosures of Weiner,” Ms. Weingarten told Politicker, stepping in for Ms. Thompson when she was asked about the timing. “This is just a matter of–I said to Elsie, ‘Come with me to a school.”

“Anthony’s deeds and misdeeds have not inspired everything that goes on in New York,” Ms. Thompson added, refusing to talk about whether Mr. Weiner should drop out of the race.

“No comment. We’re here to talk about important issues,” Ms. Thompson said.

As she and Ms. Weingarten edged down the hallway, blockaded by a line of passing children, Ms. Thompson told reporters that she intends to keep up these appearances for the rest of the campaign. And as she rode an elevator up to a sensory gym, where the schoolchildren get to run around barefoot, climbing and swinging, she seemed resolute in her husband’s mission and his message.

“I’ve been campaigning for Bill quite actively because he is one of those rare, genuine public servants who truly believes that his service is about everybody else,” Ms. Thompson said before joining the kids in the gym. “And it’s not all about him.”