Muted Miller, Charging Weiner
He may be last in the polls, but City Council Speaker Gifford Miller was gamely touring Brooklyn Monday, delicately suggesting that his newly surging challenger, Congressman Anthony Weiner, might be more talk than action. "How can we be sure people will live up to their rhetoric?" Miller said Monday morning at a Brooklyn Heights sidewalk press conference. "I'm the one who stood up to Michael Bloomberg for seven years," said Miller, detailing a laundry list of council battles with the mayor. Accompanied by a half-dozen weary-looking campaign aides, Miller vowed that he will have 1000 volunteers in the streets tomorrow getting out the vote.
A couple of hours later, the hard-charging Weiner held a crowded, boisterous rally about a mile away in a Carroll Gardens park. If Miller's event was muted, Weiner's appeared to be hyper-charged. The congressman, enjoying a weekend's worth of soaring poll numbers that show he could at least push Fernando Ferrer into a runoff race, waited out-of-sight on a park bench until his allies, including Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel, firefighters' union vice president Jim Slevin, and machinists' union leader Jim Conigliaro, warmed up the crowd. Asked to comment on Al Sharpton's endorsement of Ferrer, Weiner decelined to take a shot at the controversial reverend. "I'd rather lose this election than bring disunity," he said.
Weiner backers said they weren't surprised at his growing poll numbers. "He's always been a great closer," said David M. Schwartz, an attorney who worked on Weiner's original council race in 1991. "He wasn't expected to win that one, or his congressional race," said Schwartz. "He always came from behind."
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