ABC News’ Juju Chang and Melissa Lustrin report:
Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton and the wife of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, says she “couldn’t breathe” the moment two years ago when her husband confessed to the world that he’d had relationships with six women via Internet and cellphone.
“I felt like I was in an airplane really high in the air and, all of a sudden, the plane is coming apart at the seams and I am just doing all I can to hang on for dear life,” Abedin, 36, told the New York Times magazine about the scandal that derailed her husband’s political career.
At the time, in the summer of 2011, Weiner, 48, was a charismatic and ambitious congressman, widely considered a rising star among Democrats. Abedin was a top adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who traveled the world with her boss.
She was also pregnant with the couple’s first child, the world would later learn, just as her husband was busted for tweeting a photo of a man in boxer briefs to a female college student, a tweet that was supposed to be a direct message.
Abedin stayed with her husband, a decision she says was not easy.
“It took a long time to be able to sit on a couch next to Anthony and say, ‘OK, I understand and forgive,’” she told the Times. “It was the right choice for me. I didn’t make it lightly.”
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Abedin also says she relied on her boss, Hillary Clinton, a woman familiar with both political and personal scandal in the public eye, for advice, and had the Clinton family’s support in her decision to stay in her marriage.
“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,” Abedin told the Times.
The high-profile and in-depth interview comes as Weiner, now a stay-at-home dad to the couple’s 2-year-old son, Jordan, is reportedly eyeing a political comeback aimed at the New York City’s Mayor’s Office.
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Abedin’s admission that she relied on Clinton for support has raised speculation about whether any political calculations played a part in her decision to stay married to Weiner.
“I think it’s a tremendous asset for him to have someone of her stature and grace standing by his side,” said Nicole Wallace, a political analyst for ABC News. “One of the things that voters like to get their arms around is whether this is someone who has a home life or a family life they can relate to.”
Weiner spent more than $100,000 on polls last month gauging whether the public could forgive him – and vote for him – after the scandal.
“To some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something,” Weiner told the Times. “Also, I want to ask people to give me a second chance.”