Anthony Weiner’s political comeback is in the hands of one person: His wife, Huma Abedin. If that sounds familiar — well, Abedin seems to be following the playbook of her longtime boss and mentor, Hillary Clinton.
“It took a long time to be able to sit on a couch next to Anthony and say, ‘O.K., I understand and I forgive,’.” Abedin says in a much-discussed New York Times profile of the former power couple. “It was the right choice for me. I didn’t make it lightly.”
Compare to when Clinton sat on a couch in 1992, in front of cameras for “60 Minutes,” after her husband’s campaign was rocked by reports of an extramarital affair.
“You know, I’m not sitting here – some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette,” she told Steve Kroft. “I’m sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him.”
That interview is widely credited with saving Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Fast forward 21 years. Abedin, who was pregnant when the scandal broke, on staying with Weiner:
“It took a lot of work, both mentally and in the way we engage with each other, for me to get to a place where I said: ‘O.K., I’m in. I’m staying in this marriage.’ Here was a man I respected, I loved, was the father of this child inside of me, and he was asking me for a second chance.”
It’s one thing to stay in a marriage; another to remain in the political spotlight. Abedin was notably absent during Weiner’s frantic denials and resignation after his 2011 private-part-tweeting scandal, rejecting the support-the-hubby appearance (Wendy Vitter, Silda Spitzer) at the humiliating mea culpa press conference.
But now the former congressman wants to run for New York City mayor, and the primary is just six months away. Time to bring on Huma.
Abedin was always super-private during her years working for Clinton, most recently as deputy chief of staff. But she got personal for the Times magazine about her life with Weiner, whom she wed in 2010.
“Anthony and I had not spent more than 10 consecutive days together until I was pregnant and we went to Italy and France for two weeks,” she said. “That was the longest period of time we’d ever spent together.”
The sexting scandal broke when she traveling overseas with Clinton, who arranged to fly in her mother and brother for support. “Ultimately they wanted to make sure that I was going to have a husband who was going to be good to me, a man who would be good to my mom’s grandchild.”
Abedin said Clinton helped her through those awful first days, but declined to go into details: “I think she would be O.K. with me saying this, because I know she has said this before: at the end of the day, at the very least, every woman should have the ability and the confidence and the choice to make whatever decisions she wants to make that are right for her and not be judged by it.”
A forgiving spouse isn’t crucial to a political comeback — look at Mark Sanford, divorced and confident enough to bring his mistress at his primary victory party. But Weiner ‘s scandal was different — odd and especially off-putting to women — and his wife is his best and most important advocate.
The two have stayed largely under the radar for the past two years, except for a spread with son Jordan in People magazine last summer. “We didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable,” Abedin explained. “But also, we just didn’t want to deal with it.”
Now, they’re ready to go public again. Weiner said he wants New York voters, like his wife, to give him a second chance. Huma, he said, is starting to think they will.
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