June 13, 2011— -- President Obama today joined a chorus of top Democrats condeming the behavior of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., saying, "If it was me, I would resign."
The remark, made during an interview with NBC, is the strongest comment yet from the White House since the start of the scandal that has engulfed the New York congressman.
"When you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can't serve as effectively as you need to, at the time when people are worrying about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills -- then you should probably step back,'' Obama said.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama viewed the Weiner affair as a "distraction" but stopped short of calling on Weiner to resign.
"The behavior was inappropriate. The dishonesty was inappropriate," Carney said of Weiner's admission of risque online chats and message swaps with multiple women after first denying them.
"We think it's a distraction from the important business that this president needs to conduct and Congress need to conduct," he said.
Weiner said this weekend that he was taking a "short leave of absence to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person." He was not expected in Washington today as the House of Representatives resumes business after a recess.
But Weiner's announcement did little to tamper new revelations about his behavior, or the mounting pressure from his peers to step down.
The website TMZ posted photographs Sunday that Weiner apparently shot of himself in the members-only House gym, adding further personal embarrassment and a reminder that at least some of his controversial behavior took place on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of also ratcheted up pressure on Weiner, insisting a temporary leave of absence is not enough.
"I think Anthony Weiner needs to resign so he can focus on his family," Schultz of Florida said Sunday.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, "I don't see how he can proceed and effectively represent his constituents."
While the Democratic leadership can't force Weiner to resign, it can make life nearly impossible for him if he decides to stay, stripping him of his committee assignments and turning him effectively into a congressman with little power or influence.
Still, Weiner has publicly vowed to keep his job.
"I've made some mistakes and I've acknowledged that. I'm trying to make it up to my wife and family," he told reporters Saturday in his Queens office, "and making clear to my constituents I want to get back to work for them. Not the easiest environment, but I want to do best for them."
Some of New York's most powerful Democrats say it's up to his constituents to decide whether he deserves to stay in office and receive another term.
"Whether or not he should resign, that's up to him, his constituents and the Democratic leadership," Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
A poll by New York 1 and Marist College last week found 56 percent of registered voters in New York's 9th congressional district believe Weiner should stay. Thirty-three percent said Weiner should immediately resign, while 12 percent were undecided, according to the poll.