Last July, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, wrote a letter to the State Department accusing Abedin's late father, mother and brother of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamist political party.
That unsubstantiated allegation drew a rebuke from even some Republicans. Sen. John McCain gave a speech on the Senate floor praising Abedin's patriotism and calling her representative of "what is best about America."
Since then, Abedin has appeared dedicated to resurrecting her husband's political career.
She urged him to run for mayor and helped arrange a lengthy New York Times Magazine profile last spring in which the couple talked at length about their struggle to overcome marital problems. In those interviews, they did not disclose that Weiner had continued to chase other women online even after his resignation.
As Weiner's unlikely mayoral campaign has picked up steam, Abedin has helped organize the campaign staff, become his most important fundraiser, and hit the campaign trail, where she told reporters that she was "having so much fun."
Her nervous public appearance with Weiner on Tuesday looked anything but.
"My heart just reaches out to her. She's such a classy, beautiful lady and I just hate to see her in this," U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel said.
People watching the eye-popping spectacle were sure to wonder why she would subject herself to that kind of torture, especially since her career path would appear to be bright even if her husband left public life forever.
Abedin left the State Department when Clinton retired and now heads her private office. If Clinton runs for president again in 2016, most observers expect her to play a role in the campaign.
Stephanie Coontz, who wrote "Marriage: A History" and teaches family studies at Evergreen State University in Olympia, Wash., said it's a shame that her response to her husband's behavior would be a subject of attention at all.