Pregnancy amid sexting scandal tests Weiner's wife

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NEW YORK (AP) - A continent away from her congressman-husband as he tries to weather the fallout from an Internet-sex scandal, Huma Abedin spent Thursday attending to a more familiar role: that of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's most trusted and indispensible aide.

Weiner and Abedin laugh after the swearing-in of the 112th Congress in January 2011. (Photo: Associated Press)

Clinton was in Abu Dhabi for a meeting on Libya, the first day of a weeklong tour of the Middle East and Africa. Abedin was at Clinton's side, appearing composed and unrattled as photographers snapped her picture.

The spotlight on Abedin has intensified amid the disclosure by friends that she and Rep. Anthony Weiner are expecting their first child.

It's the latest twist in a series of eye-popping revelations surrounding the New York Democrat since he acknowledged sending sexually explicit texts and photos to several women online and lying about it for days after the initial revelations. He told the New York Post Thursday he had no plans to resign from Congress and was trying to get back to work on behalf of his district, which covers part of Brooklyn and Queens.

Several Democrats have urged Weiner to step down.

Friends describe Abedin as more saddened than angry over her husband's behavior, and say she plans to try to help him, even though she believes he has a lot of work to do to redeem himself.

"She is a very strong woman," friend and State Department colleague Philippe Reines said.

The glamorous Abedin is one of the most recognizable - and the most private - members of Clinton's intensely loyal team of advisers.

Abedin was an intern for Clinton in 1996, helping the then-first lady weather the public spectacle over her own scandal-scarred husband, who had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinksy and was impeached for lying about it.

Abedin was with Weiner in New York following his news conference Monday in which he acknowledged sending inappropriate texts and photos to several women over about three years and publicly apologized to her for the pain he had caused.

"I love my wife very much, and we have no intention of splitting up over this," Weiner said through tears.

Abedin did not appear at Weiner's side as he faced the media, but friends said her absence didn't mean she wasn't supporting him during the crisis. They said she went ahead Wednesday and accompanied Clinton overseas because she has not let the controversy get in the way of her professional duties.

"She is on the trip because it's her job, and she hasn't missed a beat throughout," Reines said.

Abedin's State Department title, deputy chief of staff for operations, only hints at her pivotal role in Clinton's professional life: She is part policy adviser, part strategist and a full-time multitasker who fields Clinton's phone calls, organizes her briefing books, snaps photos of Clinton posing with admirers and runs interference with those who try to curry favor or monopolize Clinton's time.

Abedin has played much the same role throughout Clinton's many career iterations, following the former first lady from the White House to the Senate, then joining Clinton on the presidential campaign trail in 2008 and later at the State Department.

Clinton has returned the loyalty, telling friends she considers Abedin almost a second daughter. Those who know the Clintons say that other than their daughter, Chelsea, and Hillary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, there is no one closer to the couple than Abedin.

When Vogue Magazine featured Abedin in a photo spread in 2007, Clinton offered effusive praise.

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