The Clinton Team Is Closer to the Weiner Campaign Than They’d Like to Admit

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Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Here's some more fodder for those enjoying what David Axelrod dubbed a "parlor game for political junkies who can't wait for the 2016 race to begin." Though the Clintons have publicly kept their distance from Anthony Weiner, and reportedly want their honorary "jerky son-in-law" to drop out of the mayoral race, the New York Times reports that Huma Abedin's fellow Clinton aides have been by her side throughout the campaign, and keep Hillary Clinton up to date on Carlos Danger's latest escapades. Just as the line between Abedin's roles as a State Department employee, private Hillary staffer, and consultant for a company linked to President Clinton are murky, the Clinton loyalists' official involvement in the Weiner campaign is unclear — but it seems they've had a hand in all of the major milestones leading to Weinergate 2.0.

The Times reports that several Clinton staffers have offered support and advice to Abedin, though their concern doesn't extend to her husband. Clinton aide Doug Band reportedly made Weiner wait in the car when Abedin stopped by his home for a visit with their son Jordan. The feeling appears to be mutual. When asked how he'd respond to the Clintons calling for him to drop out, Weiner said he's "not terribly interested in what people who are not voters in the city of New York have to say."

Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton's longtime spokesman, has been particularly involved in Weiner's mayoral bid. He traveled from Washington to the Weiner's New York apartment last summer to sit in on their interview with People magazine. Abedin called Reines just before she spoke to reporters at a press conference last week, then he reportedly called Hillary "to make sure she knew was about to unfold." Hours earlier he fumed as he learned of Weiner's post-resignation sexting, saying on a conference call that he would "reach through this phone" and "pull out" his throat. (The Times notes that he added an expletive, but we'll probably never know what it was. The paper described the infamous "slutbag" rant by saying a Weiner spokeswoman used "several vulgar and sexist terms" and said an intern "sucked" at her job.) Just a few days ago, Reines advised Abedin to steer clear of Weiner's latest campaign video.

Even if Team Clinton officially wants nothing to do with Weiner, and finds the "stand by your man" Hillary comparisons awkward, they are willing to let it be know that they won't abandon Abedin. Reines wouldn't describe the extent of his role in the Weiner campaign, but told the Times that he wants to help out his friend. "A lot of times, with these things, it's really just to talk something through with a peer," he said, adding that he's "someone who's not going to pull any punches, or say everything is dandy when it's not." Despite her colleagues' obvious disdain for her husband, Abedin probably appreciates that bit of public support — especially after paparazzi spent the day stalking her from door to door as she went to get a haircut.