Weiner on R.A. Rage, Jew-Receptiveness and Bloomberg’s Inescapable Republicanism

At a "getting-to-know-you" forum at N.Y.U. last night, Anthony Weiner took a moment to strongly criticize Michael Bloomberg for extending term limits and then running for reelection.

“He lied," said Weiner, who may or may not also be running for mayor. "I don’t like it when my mayor lies to me.”

Specifically, Weiner was referring to Bloomberg's 2008 State of the City speech, in which the mayor promised to convene a charter revision commission, but never did. If he had, it would have been possible to put the term-limits extension out for a public vote. Bloomberg later told reporters, “You can’t get everything done.”

"I think that one of the things that we have to do—in the very least—is to make sure that the citizens are being dealt with in an honest fashion,” Weiner said.

It’s one of the most direct shots Weiner has taken at Bloomberg so far, push-polling accusations notwithstanding.

Before he announces whether or not he will actually run for mayor, Weiner said, he will give a series of policy speeches in the next month or so. He declined to specify the topic of the speeches, but an aide said they will highlight the challenges facing Washington and New York City.

Other than that, the conversation between Weiner and the moderator mainly focused on the congressman's personal life. Weiner talked about his days in college, when he apparently ran in and lost a race for a spot on the student body senate.

Fortuitously, he was later appointed to the seat, and became what he called a “jihadist” to ban resident assistants from serving in the student body, arguing that they’re really “employees” of the college and can’t represent student needs.

On an even more personal note, Weiner delved into his experience working at an ice cream store—his first job. Employees at the store were identified not by name, but by ice cream flavors. “Hey Strawberry,” Weiner recalled customers saying to him.

Weiner also said that, as a young staffer for Chuck Schumer, he contemplated going to law school and applied to several schools in New York as well as one in South Florida. The reason?

“I figured—this was 1986, ’87—I figured South Florida would be adding some Congressional districts at some point,” Weiner said. He thought to himself at the time, “There’s two places that a Jew from Brooklyn can get elected. Brooklyn, or South Florida.”

At one point, moderator Gary Parker asked Weiner about his reputation as a tough boss, most thoroughly explored in a pair of New York Times stories. Weiner said he works hard, and acknowledged that he demands a lot from his staff.

But he downplayed the stories.

“I dispute that I’m really that tough to work for,” Weiner said. "And The Times made a very big deal out of it. But The Times makes a big deal out of strange things."

This is not the first time Weiner has criticized The New York Times.

After the event, I asked Weiner if he thinks Bloomberg can expect more support from Democrats this year than he did in 2005, considering he is no longer a registered Republican, and has hired a number of well-known Democratic operatives.

“I don’t know," he said. "I think the fact that he’s going to be on the Republican line, I think there are a lot of people in New York who won’t vote for a Republican.”

When I noted that Bloomberg is now technically not registered with any party, Weiner said, “I don’t think people know what your registration is.”

He added, “People are going to make an association. He’s the Republican. Whether he likes it or not, it’s ‘Republican Mike Bloomberg.’” Weiner on R.A. Rage, Jew-Receptiveness and Bloomberg’s Inescapable Republicanism