“I don’t really know much about her history,” said Mr. de la Renta, “because Huma is not such a talkative girl.”
Other political players with Clinton connections were just as effusive—and just as vague on the personal details.
“I’m so fond of Huma, if she were to run for office, I would volunteer for her campaign,” said public-relations man and Democratic super-fund-raiser Robert Zimmerman. Pressed for any biographical details about his prospective candidate, Mr. Zimmerman said, “I really don’t know much of her back story.”
The Huma Story
The back story, as it were, begins 32 years ago in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Ms. Abedin, who declined to participate in this article, lived until the age of 2. Her family then relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she lived until returning to the States for college. She attended George Washington University. Her father, who died when she was 17, was an Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar of Indian decent. He founded his own institute devoted to Western-Eastern and interfaith understanding and reconciliation and published a journal focusing on Muslim minorities living in the diaspora. Her mother, a renowned professor in Saudi Arabia, is Pakistani.
Ms. Abedin recently bought an apartment in the vicinity of 12th and U streets in Washington, D.C. When she comes to New York, she stays with her sister, who has an apartment in Manhattan—not, as one popular rumor has it, in Chappaqua with the Clintons. She has no children and has never been married. She’s single.
Ms. Abedin began working for Mrs. Clinton as an intern for the then First Lady in 1996. She was hired as a staff assistant to the First Lady’s chief of staff, Maggie Williams. For several years, she was the backup to Mrs. Clinton’s permanent personal aide, Allison Stein, and she officially took over as Mrs. Clinton’s aide and advisor around the time of the 2000 Senate race.
Her Presidential c
ampaign title is “traveling chief of staff.”
‘Hoh My God!’
So she’s eminently qualified, and functions in the most visible position for the most visible candidate now running for President. Still, that’s only part of the explanation for why she has become an object of fascination.
“Have you seen Huma?” asked James Carville, the former advisor to President Clinton. “Her appearance is just like, ‘Hoh my God!’ She takes your breath away. She’s an unbelievably, stunningly gorgeous woman. Nobody in that position can be that good-looking; it just doesn’t happen.” He added that she is also “damn smart.”
Ms. Abedin is 5-foot-6 but invariably wears high heels—even to the multitude of parades she is obliged to walk in. She has full lips and long auburn hair, always worn down. And, despite a penchant for cheeseburgers and a schedule that doesn’t allow much time for Equinox, she is fashionably trim.
According to a friend, her favorite designers are Mr. de la Renta, Catherine Malandrino, Charles Nolan and Prada. “And she has a weakness for Marc Jacobs bags,” said the friend. “She is known for her bags.”
Robert Barnett, the Clintons’ longtime attorney, said that in 11 years of knowing her, he has never seen her wear the same outfit twice. He also said he holds Ms. Abedin’s intellect in the highest regard. “She has extremely good instincts and extremely good judgment,” he said. “She is also gorgeous and the most terrifically dressed young woman you will ever encounter.”
A Special Category
Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powell, a 33-year-old who was born in Cairo, also speaks fluent Arabic and is also uncannily stylish—she says she has been told on many occasions that she is Ms. Abedin’s Republican doppelgänger—had some insights into what her colleague is really passionate about.