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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.