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Huma Abedin Faces Backlash For Defending Anthony Weiner Amid Sexting Scandal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, has been hit with a widespread backlash after standing by her husband as he admitted to another sexting scandal.

Back in 2011 when a heckled, harried Weiner resigned from Congress and apologized for the explicit text messages that had destroyed his career, his then-pregnant wife was notably absent.

But when the latest sexting allegations against Weiner surfaced Tuesday, Abedin was right there at his side.

Relationship Experts Weigh In Huma Abedin's Comments At Press Conference

"I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him,'' and the sexting matter is "between us,'' she said, a message that could prove important to shaping voters' views as they digest his latest admission.

With a spread in People Magazine last summer, it seemed like the couple was campaigning to show that Weiner had been rehabilitated, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported. Since then, Abedin has played a large and visible role in Weiner's mayoral campaign.

But the revelation that he was still exchanging explicit messages with a 22-year-old woman last summer was a credibility buster for both.

"Huma was the one in the relationship with credibility, and her credibility was supposed to carry him and lift him up into office. And now he's bringing her credibility down along with his," said author and political analyst Keli Goff. "That's what this has done, now we don't trust either one of them and what stories they're telling about this timeline."

Many have noted that Abedin spent years joined at the hip with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose power and popularity grew after she stood by her husband, Bill Clinton, during a sex scandal that led to impeachment hearings.

"It's the Internet, it's not physical, so it's not that bad," Ruth Houston, author of the book "Is He Cheating On You," told 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera. "The message she's trying to convey is 'I trust him and so should you.'"

Abedin worked by Clinton's side for almost two decades. At her wedding to Weiner in 2010, Clinton told guests if she had a second daughter, it would be Abedin.

"I think she made, from a psychological point of view, very cleverly worded statements," said relationship expert Dr. Judy Kuriansky. "She has been in this political game for many years. She's worked with the Clintons. She understands how the game is going and how it works."

"Now she'll know she gave it her all and she was not the one to put the nail in the coffin of his political career should he lose," added Lauria Puhn, author of "Fight Less, Love More."

But author and psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert said maybe Abedin should be taken at her word.

"She's doing what she needs to do to support her husband," Alpert said. "We need to respect the fact that they're probably working very hard in therapy."

Reaction to Abedin's comments also exploded across social media, with some wondering if they were part of a strategy, and others criticizing her for defending Weiner at all.

"I seriously hope liberal women are taking note of how weak Huma Abedin really is. Seriously," tweeted @ashleythelorel, along with the hashtag "#LeaveHisAss.

"Huma Weiner has revealed her only priority: MONEY/POWER," tweeted conservative commentator @LucyKnows1.

Many New Yorkers seemed to agree that Abedin was being sincere.

"I thought they handled it really well and seemed like they were mending things," said Marissa Fassano from Crown Heights. "I thought that it was private, none of my business and good for them."

"I don't think it's a good sign'' that Weiner's behavior continued even after his resignation, said Andrew Taub, 22. "But I do believe for some people looking for a sign, for something to bolster his campaign, (the fact that Abedin is staying with him) says a lot.''

Others are speculating that Abedin is playing the part of the supportive wife as part of a bigger political game.

"I do believe she has her own political aspirations and she will do what she needs to do in order for her position to move up," said Nancy Thomas of Huntington.

"She's very shrewd," said Queens resident Scott Ruffcorn. "I think she learned from Hillary."

At the Tuesday news conference, Abedin said her husband had made some "horrible mistakes both before he resigned from Congress and after'' but insisted she and her husband discussed "all of this'' before he jumped into the mayor's race in May.

Seeming a bit choked with emotion, she noted that she had chosen to stay in the marriage, but "it was not an easy choice.''

"Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs," she said. "It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony."

With Abedin smiling at his side, Weiner said that "this is entirely behind me,'' and both made it clear they were moving ahead with his campaign.

Anthony Weiner Holds Press Conference As New Sexting Evidence Emerges
Huma Abedin, wife of Anthony Weiner, speaks during a press conference on July 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Weiner and Abedin, however, sought to cast the newly revealed messages as nothing really new.

"I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out,'' Weiner said. In a sign of how much he was projecting taking the messages in stride, he added that he was surprised that more hadn't come out sooner.

Abedin said she came to the decision it was "worth" staying in her marriage -- a decision she said she made for herself, her son and her family.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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