This week we saw both the Perry and Romney campaigns release ads starring the candidates' wives, and today the Gingriches appear together in a televised Christmas message that will air in Iowa. According to the Washington Post, Callista Gingrich is getting more involved in the campaign, making her first speech recently and taping a second ad about the importance of music education—she is a french horn player and sings in a choir.
As the role of first lady has evolved over the last half century and the office has become more policy oriented, it's fair to take a look at the spouses of the candidates. Not only do we want to know about their "platforms," but we take into account their style and temperament and character. We also want to know how much influence they have over their spouses. "Not only do they represent our idea of the familial ideal to the nation and the rest of the world, but they also engage in pillow talk with the president of the United States. No other influence compares," columnist Kathleen Parker wrote this week.
In the last election cycle, we met Cindy McCain, who campaigned often for her husband. We also saw a lot of former President Bill Clinton, who hit the trail for his wife, Hillary. Clinton saw his future role as first gentlemen become a legitimate campaign issue—would he really be able to let go and let her be in charge when a crisis arose? Not many of us thought he could. He was scrutinized by voters just as much as any of the wives were.
So now we've met Ann Romney, Anita Perry, and Callista Gingrich, but where is Marcus Bachmann? There was a flurry of activity last summer when a gay-rights group went after him, but we've heard nothing since.
We also have never seen any of her children. I've said often that their decision to take in so many teenage foster kids over the years says volumes about them—especially now that I have teenagers in the house—and I'd love to learn more about them and how they do it. I'd also like to hear if he has that same Clinton gene, the one that might not let her be in charge, but he's nowhere to be seen. What gives?
Do you think the Bachmann family's absence could be a reaction to Sarah Palin's constant use of her children on the campaign trail? That perhaps Marcus Bachmann doesn't want to be compared to either the first dude or former President Clinton? That's certainly understandable. As nice as it would be to hear from some of the Bachmann kids—those Huntsman girls' tweets and videos are pretty funny—I can respect keeping the Bachmann kids out of the spotlight, given that they're in a foster home and have lives that are difficult enough as it is. If that's the case, maybe the Bachmanns should say so. I suspect most of us would agree with the decision.
Or maybe it's just that Mom's been gone for months campaigning, the kids have exams and papers due, and he's got his hands full getting Christmas presents for everybody, which is what I need to be doing!
Have a terrific holiday and best wishes from the Cary family.