Meet the Press   |  July 28, 2013

2: Sex scandal society: When politics comes into play

A Meet the Press roundtable reviews recent sex scandals in the American political landscape, including New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and we're back with our political roundtable. joining e pe now, former senior adviser to president obama , now an nbc news senior political analyst , david axelrod . republican strategist mike murphy , anchor of cnbc's "closing bell," maria bartiromo , former democratic congressman from tennessee, harold ford jr . welcome. scan zals, scandals, everywhere, and they have to do with sex and misconduct. let's get right to it. you can't make it up. this is the cover of "the new yorker." it is anthony weiner sit eight stride the empire state building the picture tells a thousand words about his scandal. he is talking about these sexting relationships that he had. he was asked about it while campaigning earlier this week on coney island . this is what he said.

>> it's not dozens and dozens. it is -- it is six to ten, i suppose, but i can't tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.

>> and what is so inappropriate, david axelrod , is so much of what's in the new york tabloids we can't even discuss this morning because it's simply not appropriate for our air. bottom line is can he stay in this race?

>> well, first of all, let me just say it's a matter of disclaim they're my old firm, the firm i sold, is representing one of the other candidates. i'm not involved in that. and i haven't really commented on this because huma is a friend of mine, his wife, and i deeply respect her. but at this point it's absurd. he is not going to be the next mayor of new york . he is wasting time and space. you asked at the beginning -- you know, americans believe second chances but not third chances. and you asked at the beginning when will voters say enough. i remember an old song from the 1970s that i loved called "how can i miss you when you won't go away?" i think they think it's time for him to go away, let new york have its mayor's race.

>> maria bartiromo , speaking of huma abedin , his wife, she was quite out front. on tuesday at this press conference saying that she stands by him. this is what she said.

>> anthony's made some horrible mistakes both before he resigned from congress and after. but i do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage.

>> maureen dowd in "the new york times" this morning writes the following -- "bill and hillary clinton transformed the way we look at sex scandals . they plowed through the ridicule, refused to slink away in shame like gary hart , said it was old news and argued if hillary didn't object why should voters. now defining deviancy downwards, senor and senora danger are using the clinton playbook. the difference is there's nothing in weiner 's public life that is redeeming." a lot of people i talk to wonder out loud what has she been doing this week marx rhea.

>> i think she's got to stand by him, but i wonder if she's actually talking to him when they get home. i feel bad for him. i do. from an economic standpoint, the people of new york want to see a leader who will protect jobs. when you're looking at new york , you're talking about roughly 3.3 million jobs. they want to make sure those jobs stay in the city and the leader of that city has good judgment in terms of ensuring that the regulatory environment is not too burdensome for companies to come, locate there, and create jobs. i would have to agree with david. i think the people are frustrated. i think mayor bloomberg has done a lot in terms of expanding the number of industries that are locating in new york , rewiring the city for health care , and i thought it was really interesting what his comment was on friday, putting weiner aside, about ellioiot spitzer, basically saying you don't want an attack dog coming and killing probably the most important industry in new york , which is financial services . it feels like that's the tone.

>> the regulatory environment is not getting a lot of play in the perez here.

>> look, what sells -- it's a horrible spectacle. new york is the most important city in the world. the only thing weiner 's qualified to run for is mayor of spectra vision. he didn't have any qualities in congress that made him exceptional. his campaign manager quit today. he won't be mayor of new york . it could move on to spitzer running for city comptroller with his own checkered past, and a pervert mayor in san diego , going off to the playboy mansion .

>> you talk about mayor bob filner. he spoke out on friday after more women were coming forward accusing him of sexual harassment. these were part of his comments.

>> the behavior i have engaged in over many years is wrong. my failure to respect women and the intimidating contact i engage in at times is inexcusable. i am responsible for my conduct. and i must take responsibility for my conduct by taking action so that such conduct does not ever happen again.

>> but that action, harold ford , does not include resigning. it's just defiance. i'm going to get some help for a while but i'm going to stay in office.

>> it's probably inevitable he will have to leave office. i know bob. i served with him. but it's probably time for him to move on. i would identify myself with all the remarks that have been made this morning. as i listen to anthony's campaign, he makes the case he's fighting for middle-class new yorker, he wants to ensure that a lifestyle of good jobs and opportunity there r there. if he generally cares about that, he should move on and allow the race to get back and allow people to talk about the issues people care most about. maria made a good point, there's been an issue here. who's going to grow the economy, ensure the tax base doesn't flee and ensure that what the mayor has invested in in the last few years will continue to grow? i'm not sure that's happening right now.

>> as i said, a story like weiner 's, in addition to not bringing husbands and wives closer together as a general matter, also begs the question about why do they think they can hang on? what is it about our current political culture , daismd, that makes these guys think i can ride this out?

>> i wouldn't generalize too much because what makes them behave the way they did in the first place, there's a certain pathology associated with this. and i would say the issue here isn't about his relationship with his wife. the issue is about his relationship with the voters. he's twice deceived them, lied about his activity, and why would you repost trust in someone who did that? i think he is delusional at this point and doesn't understand the situation.

>> if you're the ceo of a company looking to locate to new york city in the next couple years with anthony weiner as mayor, would you feel confident and comfortable with his leadership styles and abilities --

>> it's not even worthy of discussion. he shouldn't be mayor of new york .

>> bad judgment.

>> what happened to honor and shame? in european politics , which has a lot of problem, people resign for much smaller stuff than that. you feel bad about it but keep running. it's narcissistic, selfish, and insult to the people of new york and mayor.

>> speaker of new york city council mayoral candidate christine quinn . speaker quinn, welcome.

>> thank you very much.

>> you have called anthony weiner 's behavior reckless. "the new york times" has said he's been disqualified as a candidate. you've heard that discussion here. is he disqualified as a candidate?

>> you know, i think that what's going on here is beyond unfortunate because as has been said by everyone on your panel, this is the greatest city in the world and it has potential to be even better. and when you see scandal after scandal like this, what it does is create even more distrust and maybe even disgust in government. and we really need to move beyond that, to reengage new yorkers in this mayor's race and have conversations about the records and the future. you know, i've been in city government for a long time. my time as speaker i've balanced eight budgets on time, saved the jobs of 4,100 school teachers, and grew tech and manufacturing jobs during the recession. very few cities can say that. and i want to make this city even better.

>> speaker, what about my question? is he disqualified as a candidate?

>> you know, i think it's become very clear that former congress member weiner has a pattern of reckless behavior, an inability to tell the truth, and a real lack of maturity and responsibility. i don't think he should be mayor, and i think voter, if he stays in the race, will make that very clear.

>> one more try on this. again, "the new york times" says he's been disqualified. do you believe he's disqualified even as a candidate even as you decry the lack of focus on serious issues? from a political point of view are you benefitting from the fact he is weakened but still in the race?

>> you know, i don't thinkitis appropriate for opponents to say who should or shouldn't get in or out of races. that's for voters. did he have the qualifications to be mayor of new york ? has he disqualified himself? yes. not just because of these scandals thoeshgs that certainly has. he didn't have the qualifications when he was in congress. he was in congress 12 year, passed one bim at the request of a campaign contributor, a tobacco magnet. you compare that to the kind of work i've done bringing republicans and democrats together in the new york city council, passing legislation that improved the quality of 5,000 apartments in new york city , passing legislation -- getting it passed in albany that come september makes kindergarten mandatory for every 5-year-old. that's what we need in leadership, and that's what voters want. and i think that's what we're going to see happen come primary day and election day .

>> one issue here that you haven't talked about that's not getting as much attention, that's the stop and frisk policy in new york that has been targeted by critic who is say it is racial profiling. you have raised constitutional questions about stop and frisk . and yet you still support it. why?

>> i think stop and frisk can be used in a way that keeps us safe, because i believe we can be the safest big city in america but can do it in a way that brings communities and people together. no arrests, no weapons brought in. that is over the line . that's pulling communities and police apart. that doesn't make us safer. that's why when i'm mayor you'll see the number of stops go down, we'll be focused on quality stops that keep us safe and that are done in a constitutional way, not just a rash to stop everyone. and that's what's happened, and that's been a danger as well because it rips people and police apart.

>> christine quinn , speaker, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

>> thank you.

>> to mike murphy here. not only retoox that but again back to this issue of what maureen dowd calls the clinton playbook in this weiner race in the new york mayor's race and those comparisons and whether the public was moved on all that.

>> i think weiner 's gone so beyond the pale it's over. i agree with these guys. for a lot of us who care about new york , i lived there for a while, it's a weak field. a lot of good liberal democrats but is somebody exceptional? i think it's a pretty thin group .

>> before we go to a break, the polling in new york indicating right that anthony weiner is in a different pigs. quinn is the leader at this point. others like thompson who have called on wooener to get out of the race where we are at the moment. we're going to take a break here. we'll switch gears when we come back. more with our political roundtable, the washington fight over the economy, congress, the white house , the debt ceiling, funding the gove [ kitt