Anthony Weiner was running almost an hour late for his final campaign appearance of the weekend, two days before he faces all-but-certain political doom in Tuesday's Democratic primary for New York mayor.
There was a "child care mixup" at home, an aide said. Weiner had to peel off the campaign trail and hustle back to his Park Avenue residence to pick up his 20-month-old son, Jordan. Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, has been absent from his side for weeks.
But a small band of Weiner volunteers waited patiently for their candidate near the entrance to Pier 1 in Manhattan's Riverside Park, distributing campaign fliers to a largely disinterested crowd of families soaking in some late summer sun at the Westside County Fair.
As they lingered, an otherwise normal-looking middle-aged man approached each of the volunteers and angrily thrust a finger in their faces.
One by one, he scolded them with a nonsensical reprimand: "Sexting for mayor!" he yelled. "Sexting for mayor!"
By the time Weiner arrived, the man was gone, and the former congressman avoided yet another public confrontation over the lewd online chats that torpedoed his once-promising mayoral bid.
These scenes have become an almost daily routine for Weiner since he admitted in July that his naughty online behavior had continued well after he resigned from Congress in 2011, when he copped to exchanging racy pictures and lurid messages with women he had met on the Internet.
Weiner today is more of a public curiosity than a serious candidate, despite being the best pure political talent in a Democratic field bereft of charisma and the kind of outsized personalities to which New York voters have become accustomed.
After once leading the mayor's race, he is now in a distant fourth place. If no candidate captures more than 40% of the vote in Tuesday's primary -- and front-runner Bill de Blasio just might -- the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.
Weiner will not be one of them, despite what he tells reporters.
"I'm convinced that I'm going be the next mayor of this city," Weiner said Sunday during an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," an appearance that seemed wildly discordant with his diminished stature in New York, where the press is mostly ignoring him (unless he clashes with a loud-mouthed voter).
Scant media coverage but plenty of attention
At appearance after appearance during his final weekend of campaigning, a frantic schedule that featured 13 public events and trio of "tele-town halls," Weiner attracted scant media attention.
There were just two members of the press at a Weiner event Saturday in which he presented his "closing arguments" for a fairer tax system to a group of Spanish-speaking voters from Washington Heights, with the assistance of a translator.
The next day, outside a YMCA in the Upper West Side where Weiner was pitching his affordable housing plan, a local news producer who had been detailed to the candidate said he was often the sole journalist at his events.
After Weiner concluded his news conference, he asked whether any of the three reporters present had any questions about the topics at hand: public housing, rent regulations, mix-used zoning.
There were none, so he took a question about de Blasio.
But wherever he showed up during his admirably hectic final push -- on street corners, at community fairs, even at a cricket field in the far reaches of Queens -- Weiner would invariably draw a crowd of onlookers, most of them polite and nearly all of them reaching for their smartphones to document the moment. He is the human manifestation of click bait.
While Weiner chatted with a voter on the corner of 105th and Amsterdam about expansion plans for NYU and Columbia University, an open-topped New York tour bus pulled up to a nearby stoplight.
A heavyset man on the top deck of the bus spotted the candidate on the sidewalk -- from a 40-yard distance, no less -- and started flailing his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs: "Weiner! Weiner! Weiner!"
Weiner paused and waved back. "Welcome to New York! Stay as long as you want! Spend lots of money!"
In the closing days of the race, Weiner seems to be living in a sweet spot between shamelessness and fortitude, soldiering on in the face of mockery and barely any hope of winning. If he cracks double digits on Tuesday, it will be a surprise.
Voters can't quite seem to figure out why he didn't quit the race weeks ago.
Craig Meisner, a Democrat from Riverdale who runs a nonprofit, came upon one of Weiner's "closing argument" events Saturday while walking through Isham Park in upper Manhattan. Like hundreds of New Yorkers before and after him, he looked on curiously, snapped a picture and promptly posted it to Twitter.
"It makes no sense to me at all," Meisner said of Weiner's campaign. "I am assuming he's running so that for his next step, his next office, he can say he's cleansed himself. You go through the process, you get vilified to whatever degree, and then you can run again for something else."