NEW YORK (PIX11)—No doubt recognizing he'd become the center of media focus, embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner chose not to participate in this year's Salute to Israel Parade. A staunch supporter of Israel, the New York Democrat has been an annual fixture at the parade, which has become a must show for politicians courting the Jewish vote.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were there. So were Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. But nowhere to be found was Congressman Weiner. He remains under fire and a cloud of suspicion since a lewd photo of bulging briefs was sent from his Twitter account.
Weiner maintains his account was hacked and since has raised more questions than he's answered. Some paradegoers from his heavily Jewish district were disappointed he wasn't there. One woman insisted, "He's too embarrassed to show his face." One man declared, "He's a bum, tell him he's a bum." Another observer expressed the belief that it was a personal matter and the whole thing was overblown.
Many of the politicians joining the 30,000 marchers refused to say anything about the Weiner brouhaha. Senator Schumer said, "I won't comment on that, I'm here to celebrate Israel." Senator Lautenberg, however, said Weiner should have attended the parade. "I'd like to see him here. He cares about Israel and is very active in the Jewish community and he ought to be here," he declared. Similar sentiments were expressed by Senator Gillibrand, who said, "Congressman Weiner is a friend of mine, and I know he is a friend of Israel too."
Governor Cuomo asserted, "I don't think it's damaging to the Democratic party. The impact on the congressman and what it means to people, we'll see. It's going to be up to the congressman how he handles it, then people will have an opinion when they actually have the facts," he said.
Since a testy exchange with reporters, Weiner has kept his distance from the media. His office had no immediate comment as to why he skipped the Israel parade, as well as the annual Gay Pride Parade in Queens.