While supporters and opponents of the veteran Harlem congressman confronted each other outside The Plaza Hotel Wednesday, the mood inside was upbeat, even while some guests privately indicated it may be the last birthday fundraiser Rangel sponsors, Politico reported Thursday.
The Democrat was moved by the outpouring of support by Democratic officials, longtime backers and movers and shakers in New York politics -- and said as much.
"I've been to a lot of funerals but this damn sure ain't no funeral," Rangel said.
"This has been a real moving experience for me that I will never, never forget," he told the crowd, "and you being here over the many, many years has given me the strength to do what has not been convenient, but to do what we know is right. We're gonna win this one. ... Please, remember me in your prayers, because we know it really works."
Rangel, 80, a 20-term congressman who led the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee until earlier this year, has maintained he is innocent of the 13 charges the House ethics committee filed against him.
Former New York Mayor David Dinkins, the city's first black mayor, flipped the bird to a protester who was heckling attendees as they arrived, Politico reported.
He said a protester called him by name as he arrived and "at that point that I gave him the finger. That's the whole story."