NEW YORK -- Two politicians running for mayor of New York City double-teamed their rival candidate Anthony Weiner on Thursday, in a candidates' forum focused on issues facing seniors.
The disgraced former congressman, hoping for a second life in politics, faced a battering over both his voting record and his ego.
Weiner told the audience of several-hundred people at the event, organized by the Council of Senior Centers & Services of NYC, that affordable housing for seniors would be a priority if he were elected.
But Sal Albanese, a former city councilman and current fringe candidate in the Democratic field for mayor, immediately hit back, pointing to a nearly two-decade-old vote on rent stabilization and rent control rules that took place when both men were members of the City Council. At the time, Weiner voted to allow some rent regulations to expire.
Speaking in his thick Brooklyn accent, Albanese claimed that Weiner had lied about the vote "as he lied about his texting scandal on CNN."
The jab may have backfired, however, as many members of the audience hissed and booed at the reference to Weiner's sex scandal.
Weiner defended the 1994 vote, and called Albanese a "demagogue." He said the best solution to Republican opposition at the time was a compromise that continued rent protection for some apartments while losing others to market rates.
He compared it to his vote in Congress in 2010 for the Affordable Care Act -- a.k.a. Obamacare -- even though the final bill lacked universal coverage for all Americans.
"I don't roll like that," Weiner said, meaning that in some cases he favors compromise, rather than an all-or-nothing stance. "I try to get the best deal for my constituents."
"It was a moment of -- wait for it, Mr. Albanese -- leadership," he concluded.
Wiener's remark about health care reform prompted an attack from Bill de Blasio, another rival for the Democratic nomination for mayor, and as public advocate, currently the city's second highest-ranking official.
"Anthony, you didn't get Obamacare. President Obama got Obamacare," de Blasio said. "You have a tendency to think the world revolves around you."
The fireworks injected excitement into what had been a mild-mannered forum, with each candidate promising a raft of benefits to seniors. City comptroller John Liu, also running as a Democrat, and supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis, who is running as a Republican, also attended. There was general agreement among the candidates that seniors need more affordable housing, better mass transit and funding for senior centers and meals-on-wheels programs.
One of the members of the local press present said the sniping made for "one of the most interesting forums by far."
Before hopping on a bicycle outside the event, Weiner shrugged off the criticism he'd just endured.
"It may get you heckled at a forum years later, but that's part of the job," he said.