Huma Abedin stood with Anthony Weiner Tuesday and then did something virtually unheard of for the wife of a politician ensnared in a sex scandal. She spoke up forthrightly in his defense at a confessional news conference, saying, "I love him, I have forgiven him."
It was the first time at a live campaign microphone for Abedin.
Weiner had just acknowledged that the exchange of lewd texts and photos with a female admirer over the Internet had occurred long after revelations about such behavior forced him to resign from Congress in disgrace two years ago.
Abedin, 36, smiled nervously as she followed Weiner into a conference room in a midtown office building. After Weiner gave his statement, he dramatically introduced her as "my amazing wife, Huma Abedin."
Abedin admitted she was nervous and reading from a prepared speech, but she remained composed as she said:
"When we faced this publicly two years ago, it was beginning of a time in our marriage that was very difficult. And it took us a very long time to get through it. 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. It was not an easy choice in any way. But I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family.
"I didn't know how it would work out, but I did know I wanted to give it a try. Anthony's made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after. But 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. Thank you very much."
Abedin, the mother of the couple's 18-month-old son and a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton -- herself married to a president who nearly lost his office in a sex scandal -- has used her connections to raise almost $150,000 for Weiner. Abedin was conspicuously absent at his June 2011 news conferences in which he first admitted to sexting several women, and later resigned.
In the past decade, voters have witnessed politicians' wives standing silently with their husbands as they confessed to sex scandals. What Abedin did was different.
"I can't remember any examples of that ever happening before," said Jamie Chandler, a Hunter College professor of political science.
For Weiner to stand up and admit his faults "is one thing, but for his wife to be there, it adds such a credibility," Chandler said. "She is the person who's affected by this the most, and her speech seemed very genuine."
Christina Greer, Fordham assistant professor of political science, said she believes Abedin's speech was purely strategic on the campaign's part.
"This is the way to reassure female voters and voters who are possibly disgusted ... that if she's fine and she feels he's capable of the job, then we should just move forward with the campaign," Greer said.
With Tim Herrera