WASHINGTON - (AP) - Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner'sprospects for political survival dimmed precipitously on Wednesdaywith the appearance on the Internet of an X-rated photo said to beof the congressman - and the first calls from fellow Democrats forhim to step down.
"In light of Anthony Weiner's offensive behavior online, heshould resign," Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a member ofthe party campaign committee's leadership, said in a statement thatwas quickly followed by similar expressions from other Democrats.
Separately, as the political scandal increasingly roiled theDemocratic Party, several officials said that Weiner's wife, HumaAbedin, was pregnant. An official at the State Department, whereAbedin serves as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton, had no comment. Abedin was traveling withClinton on an official trip to the Mideast and Africa.
Weiner, 46, has admitted sending explicit photos and messagesvia the Internet to about a half-dozen women over the past threeyears. He vowed at a news conference on Monday to remain in office,and one lawmaker who spoke to him on Wednesday said Weinerindicated he still hopes to ride out the furor and remain inCongress. That lawmaker spoke on condition of anonymity, saying itwas a private conversation.
But the appearance of a photo of a man's genitals added yetanother aspect to what appears to be a sex scandal without actualsex in the age of social media. According to conservative bloggerAndrew Breitbart, Weiner sent the picture of himself to one of thewomen with whom he corresponded online.
The Associated Press has not been able to independently confirmthat the photo is of Weiner. On Wednesday, spokeswoman Risa B.Heller noted in a statement that Weiner had said at a newsconference on Monday that he "has sent explicit photos. Toreiterate, he has never met any of these women or had physicalcontact with them."
The photo made its way to the website Gawker by a circuitousroute, after Breitbart showed it to the hosts of Sirius XM radio's"Opie and Anthony Show."
By day's end Wednesday, at least six House Democrats had calledfor Weiner to step down. Schwartz was the first, and politically the most significantbecause of her position as a senior leader on the DemocraticCongressional Campaign Committee.
The party's leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of Californiahas called for an ethics committee investigation to see whetherWeiner's actions violated any House rules.
While declining to make any public comments since Monday, Weinerhas been on something of an apology tour by telephone. He hascontacted fellow House members and former President Bill Clinton,who officiated at the congressman's wedding to Abedin nearly a yearago.
The officials who spoke about the telephone calls did so oncondition of anonymity, saying they were private matters.
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