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(CNN) - Anthony Weiner's top opponents for New York City's Democratic mayoral race each got a chance to address the former congressman in a major televised debate Tuesday night, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn took more than one shot at the flagging candidate as the two engaged in heated exchanges throughout the night.
Two minutes deep into the five-candidate showdown, Weiner was already acknowledging and apologizing for his sexting scandal, but he urged voters to move beyond his "personal failings" and focus on the more substantive issues in the race.
"At the end of the day this campaign is not about me or about anyone else on this stage, it's about you," he said, looking at the camera.
All four of his opponents on stage agreed, with each saying they're tired of talking about Weiner. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio added the former congressman "should step aside for the good of the city."
"We need a debate on the issues," he said. "We should not be talking about one individual and their personal life."
City Comptroller John Liu pleaded: "Please don't ask me any more questions about him."
Weiner has vowed to stay in the running despite his sharp drop in the polls after admitting last month that he continued having online relationships with women for more than a year after his 2011 resignation from Congress.
At Tuesday night's debate-hosted by WABC, New York Daily News, Univision and the League of Women Voters-Quinn said Weiner was "right" in that New Yorkers have "heard a lot about his personal issues."
"For me the bigger issue is his record," she said, before taking a swipe at the limited amount of legislation passed under his name during his dozen years in Congress.
Hitting back, Weiner faulted Quinn for getting term limits overturned, an unpopular move that allowed Mayor Michael Bloomberg to win a third term and allowed Quinn to stay in the speaker's office.
"The speaker refuses to apologize for overturning the will of the people," he said. "I've owned up to my personal failings, but I have a record that I'm proud of...and that's not something the speaker can claim."
Quinn stood by her decision on term limits and argued neither she, nor any other New Yorker, "should be lectured by Anthony Weiner about what we need to apologize for tonight–or ever."
As the field of candidates, which also included former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, debated local issues, Weiner stepped in to paint himself as an outsider.
"This is the problem: They all come from basically the same place. They've been part of municipal government for decades now," he argued. "If you want someone truly independent, who's going to stop this noise ... you have a choice here."
Turning to Weiner, Quinn begged to differ.
"Not for nothing, you were in government your whole career until you had to resign from government, so I'm not sure why you're finger-pointing at people in government," she said.
Tuesday's debate came hours after a new poll showed a dramatic switch in the race. According to the Quinnipiac University survey, de Blasio jumped to the front of the pack with 30% of support among likely Democratic primary voters.
Quinn, the former front-runner, fell behind with 24% and Thompson came in at 22%, just four weeks before the September 10 primary. Weiner remained behind all three at 10%, while Liu had 6% support.
we live in a time where we accept the occasional personal mistake, because we have all made them and we can forgive. but when you do it again, and again, and again and betray your family, wife, kids, repeatedly.... it is more of a sign of your true nature, not a mistake here or there.
Once a wiener always a wiener!!!
Weiner should definitely stay in the race – so he doesn't deprive the voters of sending him a very clear message.
If the polls are to be believed, he's gone from front-runner to 4th place with just 10%. By election day he could slip even further.
So hang in there Anthony ... I'm just dying to hear how you're going to spin this loss.
Weiner is his own worst enemy and you shouldn't have to worry that your mayor is going to get sued for some tweeting his ding dong during his time in office...yes lets get beyond the past but the problem is he hasn't..so until we have at least two years of his not posting and sexting everything he can...then he might be at least trusted by enough people to not get his butt handed to him
everybody has their dogday
Weiner should just go away. . I'm amazed his wife is sticking with him.
This is what happens when you admire people like Bill Clinton.
So, removing term limits so that the people can vote to keep who they want in office... is overturning the will of the people? Sounds like somebody's thinking with their second brain, for the thousandth time.
They are all bad choices. Vote none of the above!!!!
Weiner man needs to retire from politics. He's an example of why no one respects politicians. He says, "yes, I am a liar, a philanderer, I humiliated my wife and family and revealed myself to be a man of low character, but hey vote for me anyway cause your a moron". What a classy guy!
It's such a big shame that the media think the public is as obsessed with the Weiner as the media is. be nice if they'd drop him like the rotten potatoe he is.
I cant believe he insists on continuing–Weiner, that is!
I think I'm finally starting to understand how Bloomberg got elected.
Weiner's absolute narcissism is almost beyond anything I have ever seen in a politician. He simply doesn't understand how his behavior, continued deception, and arrogance speak volumes about who he is at his core. While I doubt he has any chance at all of winning this election, I think it's time for America to turn their backs on morally bankrupt leaders.
Weiner is a bit of a clown. I would not care if he wasn't married with a young child. But his actions show a lack of maturity and a callous disregard of ethical behavior. I would not be surprised to see Hillary Clinton need to dump his wife as an aide because of him.
Bill de Blasio is right. Anthony Weiner should step aside for the good of the city.
Weiner: look at ME, look at ME, look at ME.... okay, just look at my Weiner.
If Weiner wins, it gives a very atrocious message about the voters of this country.
It might have been alright if his scandal ended when he was caught, but the fact that he continued shows he has no restraint and is indeed poisoning the process by being involved.
If a man cant run a family properly, how can he run a city?
Quinn is a power hungry clown. Whoever votes for her simply because of Weiners "scandal", that's pretty sad.
You wanna know what's messed up? I would never vote for a guy named Weiner for any political office, just because I would hearing the press say "Mayor Weiner" or "President Weiner" every day would feel like a joke that was funny the first time.... That's not a good reason not to vote for someone, but it is what it is.
Wiener is a piece of garbage and his wife is a complete fool for staying with him.
Weiner should be the new Hugh Hefner. It isn't political for him. It's the attention.
Thompson or De Blasio will make a good Mayor, Quinn can't be trusted she is more like a Bloomberg and she want to keep Ray Kelly in place which is not good because he is the face of stop and frisk and by her want to keep him in place will hurt her chances of being the Mayor of NYC, Anthony Weiner has too much going on in his private life and is unstable, Liu don't have enough going on to be Mayor so i believe Thompson or DeBlasio will be more honest and get the job done for the City of NY, Bloomberg was a failure from the beginning he is arrogant he don't really care for the little people.