(WASHIGNTON) — Judy Smith, the high-profile crisis management expert whose career inspired the hit ABC television show Scandal, said Sunday on This Week that even though wives who support politicians amid sex scandals usually mitigate public criticism, Anthony Weiner’s wife standing by his side “made no difference whatsoever because his behavior is just reprehensible.”
Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, defended her husband after he admitted earlier this week that he continued to send sexually explicit messages and photos months after his resignation. Initial reports of Weiner’s sexting emerged in May 2011, leading him to step down from his post as a U.S. congressman.
“It was not an easy choice in any way,” Abedin said in a press conference last Tuesday. “But I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family.”
Smith told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on the This Week roundtable that Weiner’s indiscretions are not “the usual politician having an affair. There’s an element of creepiness to this.”
She said the American people want him to step down and that “he’s trying so hard to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s not going to happen for him. He can’t do it.”
Smith, a seasoned “fixer” of media firestorms whose client rolodex includes Paula Deen, Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick, said, “It’s apparent that [Weiner is] not listening to anyone, because his campaign manager just quit.”
She said another disgraced elected official now running for office in New York City, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, has navigated his re-entry into the political spotlight with greater success.
“I think Spitzer’s done a good job in addressing the elephant in a room in particular in his ads and saying, ‘Yes, I’ve made a mistake, but I’m here to serve,’” Smith said.
She also contrasted Spitzer, who’s seeking a lower position following his prostitution scandal in 2008, with Weiner, who’s pursuing the highly influential office of New York City mayor.
Spitzer is “really taking a lower position, comptroller, trying to get that, by saying let me re-engage you and build back up the trust from the public,” Smith said.
Smith compared Weiner to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who recently captured headlines as the number of women accusing him of sexual harassment rose to seven, saying Weiner is “sort of engaging in the same behavior.”
While Weiner has not shown signs of leaving the mayor’s race following the latest revelations, Smith advised him to throw in the towel.
“Clearly, he has sort of an interest in keeping the late night talk show host folks going with it, but, yeah, he needs to step down,” Smith said.
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