Hundreds of squealing fans mobbed mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner on Saturday at a Jamaica, Queens, street fair, jostling for personal cellphone photos, whooping curbside endorsements and blowing kisses his way.
"Oh, my God! Is that -- is that Anthony Weiner? Ahhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhhh!" a teenage girl shouted to her mother as Weiner turned onto Jamaica Avenue from Parsons Boulevard to make an 8-block pilgrimage through the Jamaica Arts and Music Summer Festival.
"Weiner! Mr. Weiner! We love you! We love you!" a middle-aged man screamed.
It was a spectacular show of support for Weiner, whose polling popularity citywide has cratered since revelations that his sexting habit recurred long after he'd quit Congress in 2011. But polls have consistently showed black voters to be Weiner's most enthusiastic supporters: more than any other group, they want him to stay in the race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.
Nearly everyone at the fair Saturday was black.
A short time before Weiner made his debut, another sex-scandal-scarred politician seeking a comeback, comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer, also greeted voters at the fair. Spitzer's and Weiner's campaigns appeared to have coordinated to make sure the two candidates wouldn't run into each other.
Weiner mugged for iPhones, Androids, point-and-shoots and everything in between belonging to smitten fans. Two cops patrolling the fair even posed with him. He led a crowd of strangers in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to a young girl. One woman took his hand and led him in a brief dance, ending in a smooch.
When another woman told him she was on the telephone with her boyfriend, he grabbed it, and introduced himself.
"I got your girlfriend here. Mind if I take a picture with her?" Weiner asked.
Just a handful mentioned the sexting scandal and, even then, it was overwhelmingly to say they didn't care.
"What you did was your business, nobody else's," a man in a polo shirt told Weiner. They shook hands.
"We say Weiner! We believe in second chances!" a woman yelled as they posed for a picture.
So many people wanted to meet, greet and/or photograph Weiner that his less-than-half-a-mile route took nearly an hour. Well-wishers were still jostling to take pictures with Weiner as he climbed into an SUV waiting on Merrick Boulevard.
Soon afterward, one of Weiner's rivals for the Democratic nomination, Bill Thompson, began glad-handing for support along the same route. There was no crush for Thompson.