Alex Witt   |  May 26, 2013

The role Anthony Weiner's wife will play in his mayoral campaign

Journalists Eleanor Clift and Steve Thomma join MSNBC’s Alex Witt for Sunday’s "Front Page Politics." Eleanor Clift discusses the role of religion the effects it has in different geographic locales. Steve Thomma notes the pronounced “yuck factor” in Anthony Weiner’s past actions. Both journalists comment on Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin and her role in her husband’s mayoral run. 

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to front page politics now with the national journal saying not so fast to anthony weiner and his mayoral bid and the white house controversies continue to dominate in washington. eleanor clift for "newsweek" and the daily beast and steve , seen senior white house correspondent and editor. hello to the two of you.

>> hi, alex.

>> eleanor , the national journal says anthony weiner should not expect too many similarities to mark sanford 's comeback because south carolina is heavily evangelical. in fact, they profess starting over trends -- starting over tends to be easier because a core tenet of evangelical christianity is repentance for sin. being able to start anew, fresh. they are willing to forgive if it's heterosexual fallenness but new york city is more of a community effort and then there's the guilt. do you buy into that?

>> well, i think there's some element of truth to that. president clinton made good use of the fact he was a southern baptist and that forgiveness and everybody is a sinner and we all forgive each other and god forgives, that was an important part of his recovery as a leader. and he also rather publicly brought in spiritual leaders to the white house . anthony weiner did confessional in "the new york times" sunday magazine, but i don't think unless i've missed it that he has been seen in photo-ops grappling with what went wrong in his life and the nature of his behavior people can understand mark sanford running off with a woman and falling in love and came across like a lovesick puppy whereas congressman weiner, what he did is a little more puzzling, and he's also said that there may be other pictures out there, which i think is very unsettling to anyone who wants to back him as a politician.

>> well, absolutely. steve , do you think that is really what lies at the crux of the difference here? you have, you know, the fallen mark sanford . he fell in love with someone. it's a relationship thing. you know, people can't necessarily get into the dynamics of a husband/wife relationship. each one is different, not that it's good what he did. i'm just saying. then anthony weiner is sending pictures of his genitalia to strangers over the internet. the judgment call there, it's different, isn't it?

>> it's very different, alex. this democratic primary has a lot of confessional in it. a lot of counseling sessions. there have been a lot of people writing and talking about alcoholism and bulimia but this is different. all those other issues have to do with themselves. this has to do with something he sent to women unsolicited. it borders on harassment if not crossing a line. the yuck factor is fairly pronounced in this case.

>> yeah. and, eleanor , we should make note anthony weiner 's wife is very close to hillary clinton . but both hillary clinton and form earp president bill clinton are staying out of this race. does that surprise you or does it say to you they just don't want any part of it? they say that they have connections to many of the people that are involved in the new york mayoral race but still.

>> well, yeah, it's a primary and so you can always say we don't take sides in a primary. the clintons are taking their clue from his wife and i think she did her part by staying with him after this all -- his behavior was revealed. she was pregnant at the time. they now have a very young child together. and she's basically telling him you're out there on the diving board by yourself. take a chance and maybe -- she lives with the guy and must know how important it is to rehabilitate himself and that's what he's trying to do.

>> this first ad, steve , that is out there, to eleanor 's point, she is front and center sitting right by him looking at him adoringly supporting him and making a comment that you should vote for him.

>> well, she is saying i stayed married to him and that's between them. she's not publicly campaigning for him at least not yet. eleanor is right. i'm with you. at least personally i've forgiven you but politically this is up to you to do, between you and the people of new york .

>> i want to go through something joe scarborough said. he has a comment in politico how republicans should handle the white house controversy and here is what joe writes. the gop congress handled bill clinton's impeachment trial so badly they turned him into a sympathetic figure. 12 years later let's hope fw op leaders ignore the wolves outside their windows howling at the moon . they should keep their head down, gather evidence and bring that information to the american people . have republicans reached that point yet?

>> they're close, some are. michele bachmann , senator jim inhoch of oklahoma have started talking impeachment. this sets up for an obama win. take the irs scandal. it's a scandal even if it's contained within the internal revenue service . you don't have to connect the president. but by overreaching and immediately saying we're going to demand to tie this to the president, they then set it up that if it's not tied to the president, the entire irs scann scandal disappears and is seen as insignificant. very big danger of overreaching.

>> steve thomma, eleanor clift , happy memorial day .