What could have been
Where some see desperation, others wonder what could have been.
"Anthony Weiner is the best political performer in this field and is progressive and tough enough in his policies and rhetoric that he'd be at or near the top of this race were it not for his scandals," said one veteran of New York City politics who, because of friends working in rival campaigns, did not want to be named saying something nice about the man who called himself Carlos Danger.
Weiner's brazenness, energy and full-blown New Yorkitude offer a stark contrast to the cautious and consultant-driven personas of his Democratic opponents.
At a Harlem forum hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday, Weiner held forth on the topic of civil rights, referring to members of the African-American audience as "my brothers and sisters."
When Weiner mistakenly referred to Sharpton as "Rev. Jackson," he had the crowd in stitches with his quick recovery: "Thank you! Good night!" Even the front-running de Blasio couldn't match Weiner's effortless wit and ability to read a crowd.
The next morning, Weiner called into Hot 97, the venerable New York hip-hop radio station. Asked to name his favorite rappers, Weiner quickly won over the DJs.
"I'm a big fan of Luda; I like Nas," he answered. "But I'm little more a of dance hall reggae guy than a hip-hop guy." Much laughter ensued.
None of this is to say that Weiner, freed from the burden of expectations, is feeling loose and breezy as his campaign winds down.
Arriving at staged press events where there might only be one reporter waiting for him, Weiner can wear a pained look on his face, his jaw clenched tightly as he prepares to go through the motions of his outlining his policy positions even though they have no hope of making the papers.
"Lucky ducky artichucky," he muttered to himself as he prepared to speak to a single NY1 camera at his YMCA event.
One reporter described his demeanor lately as "sheepish," which is how Weiner looked when he arrived an hour late to Riverside Park holding the hand of his son, Jordan, who was wearing the world's tiniest fedora.
"See the hat? He's bringing sexy back," Weiner said.
As with everywhere he goes, observers hung back as Weiner walked along the Hudson River waterfront, looking on curiously and snapping pictures. Mothers and fathers pushing strollers looked annoyed as Weiner's entourage clogged the walkway. "You've got to be kidding me," one woman exclaimed.
The appearance was billed as a "retail" event, but Weiner shook few hands, instead tending to his child and walking along the Hudson River waterfront for the benefit of the cameras.
The fact that Weiner is now being trailed at all times by filmmaker Josh Kriegman, a former producer for the MTV reality series "MADE," only adds to the sense that his campaign, in its final days, is as much performance art as pursuit of office.
Weiner is asked how he steels himself for this perplexing ritual every morning before he leaves his apartment.
"This is the only campaign I know how to run," he explains, pointing to the dozens of news ideas he has floated during the campaign. "Every single I day I get up and I think, I am going to run the campaign New Yorkers want. This is where I am comfortable. This is what I like doing, and this has always worked for me. So I am not going to stop."