Though admittedly nervous, Huma Abedin not only stood next to her husband as he acknowledged new embarrassing sexual transgressions, she also took the microphone to declare: “I have forgiven him, I believe in him.”
The former congressman and current New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner held a press conference on Tuesday with his wife to admit to exchanging sexually explicit photos with a a young woman who was not Abedin–and to ask New Yorkers to forgive and forget and elect him to public office once again.
Tuesday’s press conference stood in stark contrast to Weiner’s memorable announcement two years ago. After accidentally publishing a series of lewd photos that he had sent to women through his Twitter account, the shamed congressman approached the stand alone. “I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma,” he said.
Abedin, then pregnant with their first son, did not accompany her husband as he faced the cameras in humiliation, and the couple remained acutely private until allowing a small handful of limited interviews: People last summer, and The New York Times Magazine earlier this year as he began to prep his comeback.
“When we faced this publicly two years ago, it was the beginning of a time in our marriage that was very difficult and it took us a very long time to get through it,” Abedin said Tuesday. “Our marriage like many others has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work, and a whole lot of therapy, to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony.”
She told reporters that she has forgiven her husband and would continue to support his candidacy.
“I do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage. We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor. So really what I want to say is, I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward,” she added.
Her presence effectively stole Weiner’s spotlight, a seemingly deliberate maneuver by his campaign as it continued to fine-tune a message intended to resonate with voters–a message of forgiveness. Whether or not voters will forgive Weiner’s indiscretions remains to be seen.
The most recent poll showed Anthony Weiner leading the pack with a three point lead over Christine Quinn. A recent New York Times poll, though, showed Quinn in the lead and Weiner trailing nine points behind in second. The Times called on Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race after this latest revelation.
“I am pleased and blessed that [Huma] has given me a second chance,” Weiner said Tuesday. “I’ve been asking New Yorkers to also give me another chance.”
The media immediately drew comparisons to Hillary Clinton, whom Abedin has worked for, and who also “stood by her man” in the face of an embarrassing sexual scandal. Abedin began her Washington career working in the East Wing as a White House intern in 1996 and has since remained an adviser to Hillary Clinton.
And Abedin pointed out her own unwillingness to stand in front of microphone in an essay for September’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
“For years I spent my professional life at the back of the room, far from the stage or the microphone. I kept my personal life private, even as the people I was close to lived in the public eye. But all that changed two years ago, and Anthony and I have spent these past few years working through the very private challenges we faced on a very public stage.”
Although Abedin has maintained her privacy for a large portion of an otherwise very public career, as she spoke before cameras Tuesday and carefully but, at times haltingly and softly, read her statement, she seemed ready to once again escape from the spotlight but also painfully aware of what she had signed on for in agreeing to join the mayoral race for the country’s largest city.
Watch the full press conference below.