(Photo: Spencer Platt Getty Images)
Anthony Weiner vowed Sunday to stay in the New York City mayor's race, even as his top rival said he was not qualified to lead the nation's most populous city.
Weiner, campaigning in Brooklyn, confirmed that campaign manager Danny Kedem quit after new revelations that Weiner continued to send salacious messages online to women, even after resigning from Congress in 2011.
"We knew this would be a tough campaign," Weiner said. "We have an amazing staff, but this isn't about the people working on the campaign. It's about the people we're campaigning for."
The tumult in Weiner's staff was first reported by The New York Times. Hours later, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn repeated criticism on NBC's Meet the Press that Weiner has displayed "reckless behavior" and "immaturity."
Quinn, who has a 9-point lead over Weiner, went beyond those comments when pressed if Weiner had disqualified himself by admitting he continued to send lewd messages to women after he resigned from Congress in 2011. As she noted her accomplishments on the City Council, Quinn pointed out that Weiner only managed to get one bill passed during his 12 years in Congress.
"Has he disqualified himself? Yes, he disqualified himself but not just because of these scandals," Quinn said. "He didn't have the qualifications when he was in Congress."
Weiner revealed Thursday he sent explicit texts to as many as 10 women, including three after he left Congress. They apparently include Sydney Leathers, 23, of Princeton, Ind., who revealed that Weiner had sent nude photographs to her -- and that they engaged in phone sex -- months after his resignation.
Weiner has steadfastly rebuffed calls that he quit the mayor's race, which have come from rivals such as Bill de Blasio and top Democratic leaders such as national party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Kedem was hired earlier this summer, just a few weeks ahead of Weiner's surprise announcement that he would attempt a political comeback after his sexting scandal. The news rocked the mayor's race and Weiner immediately soared to the top of public opinion polls, either coming ahead of Quinn or finishing a close second to her in the field of seven Democrats.
Kedem was a field organizer for Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential camapign and managed Democrat Mark Murphy's unsuccessful congressional bid last year against GOP Rep. Michael Grimm on Staten Island.
While Quinn repeated Sunday that it is ultimately up to New York City voters to decide Weiner's fate, there appears to be a division among those who would weigh in on the Democratic primary. Forty-three percent of Democratic primary voters say Weiner should quit the race, while 47% say he should continue running for mayor, according to the survey released Thursday by NBC 4 New York, The Wall Street Journal and the Marist Instiitute for Public Opinion.
Party primaries are Sept. 10. If no candidate gets more than 40% of the vote, a runoff will be held Oct. 1.