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Weiner's wife a top Hillary Clinton aide

By Alan Duke, CNN
  • Huma Abedin, 34, joined Hillary Clinton's staff 14 years ago
  • She is a senior aide to the secretary of state
  • Vogue profiled her in 2007 because of her style
  • She's Muslim and he's Jewish

(CNN) -- When Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted Monday to sending inappropriate messages and photos "of an explicit nature" to women online, his wife of 11 months was not standing at his side. Huma Abedin was with another politician, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abedin, 34, began working for Clinton as a White House intern in 1996, eventually becoming the former first lady's traveling chief of staff -- or "body man" -- during her campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Her popularity among movers and shakers in the Democratic Party should have been an asset for Weiner's future.

However, now that she is the victim of the congressman's indiscretion, "... the Democrats are furious at this guy," Democratic insider James Carville told CNN Monday. "He is married to one of the most popular people in the Democratic Party."

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Although she is described as a very private person, Abedin's intelligence, striking style, unusual background and ability "to make the trains run on time," brought her attention well before last summer's marriage to Weiner.

Vogue magazine profiled her in 2007, an unusual distinction for a campaign aide.

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"Huma Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s and the grace of a woman in her 50s," Clinton told Vogue. "She is timeless, her combination of poise, kindness and intelligence are matchless, and I am lucky to have had her on my team for a decade now."

Abedin is the daughter of college professors. Her late father, an Islamic scholar, was from India and her mother, a sociologist, was from Pakistan. She was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but the family moved to Saudi Arabia when she was 2. She moved back to the United States to attend George Washington University.

She told Vogue that she decided at 15 that she wanted to be an international journalist, inspired by former CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

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Abedin's plans changed when the White House intern program assigned her to the first lady's office, not the press office as she had requested.

She has not been far from Clinton since then, friends say.

"I don't think you could say they are like mother and daughter," actress Mary Steenburgen and longtime friend to the Clintons told Vogue in 2007. "It's more like an older sister-younger sister relationship, but it's definitely familial."

She joined Clinton's State Department staff in 2009, serving as a senior aide.

Her efficiency, language abilities, attention to detail and remarkable ability to pack for long trips -- noted by the Vogue reporter -- make her invaluable to the globe-trotting Clinton.

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"Huma does make the trains run on time," Clinton lawyer Bob Barnett told Vogue.

The Vogue story hinted in 2007 that she dated actor John Cusack and cyclist Lance Armstrong. Abedin was introduced to Weiner during the 2008 campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton officiated at their July 2010 wedding. Their marriage drew extra attention because Abedin is Muslim and Weiner is Jewish.

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Weiner rose through New York City politics as a young man unafraid of a fight and eager for media attention. Abedin, in contrast, is known for her diplomacy and privacy.