Weiner abides despite Democratic calls to step down

Rep. Anthony Weiner is clinging to his perch in Congress despite new efforts to pry him away and developments that might inspire others in his position to give up the fight:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Anthony Weiner is clinging to his perch in Congress despite new efforts to pry him away and 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.

“I’m not” quitting, Weiner told the New York Post on Thursday.

He said he is making amends to his constituents and trying to get work done while Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, travels overseas.

The baby on the way complicated an already ominous future for the 46-year-old congressman, who acknowledged 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.

Weiner has refused to resign even as more embarrassing details have emerged about his online communications.

Gennette Cordova, recipient of the photo of Weiner’s crotch in grey underwear that began the furor, said it was such a startling turn in an online conversation mostly in support of his politics that she assumed the message was fake.

“I have never sent him any suggestive messages,” the 21-year-old college student from Washington state told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday.

Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old blackjack dealer from Las Vegas, said her online banter with Weiner began flirtatiously and he escalated to graphic comments: “I would want to talk politics,” she said in an interview on “Inside Edition,” ”but he would turn it creepy.“

Democrats from the White House on down have left little doubt they want Weiner to reconsider his refusal to leave office, and do it fast.

“Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress,” Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz said in a statement. She was the first of a handful of congressional Democrats to make her wishes clear in public Wednesday.

“In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behaviour online, he should resign,” she said.

House Democratic leaders have begun a choreographed rollout of Weiner’s colleagues saying publicly they want him to resign.

They included: Reps. 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, including Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

None interviewed said that they want Weiner to continue clinging to his seat.

It’s apparent 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 confirmed that Abedin is about three months pregnant. Weiner said at the news conference that the couple did not intend to split over the scandal. Abedin left Wednesday with Clinton on an official trip to the Mideast and Africa.

Weiner undertook an apology campaign by phone with colleagues 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.

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.”

Weiner’s behaviour has put many of the women in the party in 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, Washington 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 “Year of the Women” that was a watershed in Democratic 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. She has not called for his resignation.

The party’s new chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, declined to respond directly on Tuesday when the Republican chairman, Reince Priebus, urged Democrats to say whether they believe Weiner should step down.

The Democratic National Committee has refused 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.

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