Scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner is clinging to his perch in Congress despite new efforts to pry him away and a pair of developments that might inspire others in his position to give up the fight:
A newly released X-rated photo that Weiner purportedly took of himself turned up on the Internet.
And his wife of less than a year, Huma Abedin, is pregnant.
The baby on the way complicated an already ominous forecast for the 46-year-old congressman, who admitted on Monday that he had Tweeted sexually charged photos and messages to six women he did not know, then lied about it to his wife, his family and his constituents. Throughout the week, Weiner has refused to resign.
His fellow Democrats from the White House on down have left little doubt they want him to reconsider — and fast.
“Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress,” Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz said in a statement, becoming the first of a handful of congressional Democrats to make her wishes explicit, in public Wednesday.
“In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online,” she added, “he should resign.”
House Democratic leaders have begun a choreographed rollout of Weiner’s colleagues saying publicly they want him to resign. They included: Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas, Michael H. Michaud of Maine, Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, Larry Kissell of North Carolina and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Some senators also weighed in: Also Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas was one.
None interviewed said publicly or privately that they want Weiner to continue clinging to his seat.
There was no sign of a resignation, however, even as new developments made clear that Weiner’s self-immolation already has cost him much: His credibility, his dignity, the confidence of his colleagues, his privacy and more. As Weiner made calls to save whatever support he had left, there were new revelations.
A photo showing a man’s genitals was published Wednesday by a website after conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart showed it to the hosts of Sirius XM radio’s “Opie & Anthony Show.” In a statement, Weiner’s spokeswoman pointed back to the Monday news conference, in which Weiner said he had sent explicit photos of himself over the Internet.
Officials also confirmed that Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife and a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is about three months pregnant. Weiner said at the news conference that the couple did not intend to split over the scandal. Abedin departed Wednesday with Clinton on an official trip to the Mideast and Africa.
Weiner, meanwhile, embarked on an apology tour by phone with colleagues spread across the country this week during the House’s monthly break. One lawmaker said that in a phone conversation during the day, Weiner indicated he hopes to ride out the furor and remain in Congress. The lawmaker spoke on condition of anonymity, saying it was a private conversation.
But back in Washington, it was hard to find much sympathy for Weiner, who until the scandal was considered a rising star in Democratic politics. Interviews with Democratic senators on the subject produced a wide array of responses, from frosty stares to polite “no comments.”
It was clear that Weiner’s behavior put many of the women in the party in especially uncomfortable spots and firmly among the lawmakers who wish he would go away. But only Schwartz, a member of the leadership, said so outright. “Of course” Weiner’s troubles complicate the party’s efforts ahead of the 2012 elections, said the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Patty Murray, before escaping into an elevator.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said, “I just view it with great surprise and dismay. That’s all I can say.” Feinstein and Murray were first elected to the Senate in 1992, the so-called Year of the Women that was a watershed in Democratic political history.
The party’s leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, has called for an ethics committee investigation to see whether Weiner’s actions violated any House rules.
But she has not called for his resignation. And the party’s new chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, declined to respond directly on Tuesday when the Republican chairman, Reince Priebus, urged them to say whether they believe Weiner should step down.
The Democratic National Committee has adamantly refused to comment, while a spokesman in Wasserman Schultz’s congressional office has said only that she supports Pelosi’s call for an ethics investigation.
By contrast, the former Democratic Party chairman, Tim Kaine, has urged Weiner to quit. Kaine is running for the Senate in Virginia.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press