President Obama has become the latest Democratic leader to push embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., toward the door, telling NBC in an interview that if he were the congressman, "I would resign."
In an interview that will air on the Today show on Tuesday morning, Obama said that Weiner's online exchanges with women were "highly inappropriate" and that he "embarrassed himself." And while Obama said the decision about leaving Congress would ultimately be up to him and his constituents, he made his own preference clear.
“When you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can't serve as effectively as you need to, at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and their mortgages, and paying the bills—then you should probably step back,’’ Obama said.
The statement by the president underscores the sensitivity of the situation as Democratic leaders who would prefer to have nothing to do with it are forced to deal with an embarrassing distraction as they prepare for the 2012 campaign.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel all called for Weiner's resignation in a coordinated blitz of statements on Saturday.
But Weiner has so far refused to step down, and his spokeswoman said Saturday that he is taking a leave of absence from the House to seek professional treatment.
The White House earlier Monday demurred on the issue, calling the Weiner scandal a “distraction.”
"The president feels, we feel at the White House, this is a distraction. As Congressman Weiner has said himself, his behavior was inappropriate, dishonesty was inappropriate,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to North Carolina. “But the president is focused on his job, which is getting this economy continuing to grow, creating jobs, and ensuring the safety and security of the American people."
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