Are Politician’s Spouses Fair Game?

Is anything fair game when it comes to political candidates? Or should the family members of the presidential hopefuls be left out of the argument? As you read in my post on April 12, Ann Romney was criticized by Democratic Consultant Hilary Rosen. Rosen did not think Romney could be considered a source on the hardships women face in the economy because she had never worked.

Her statement was quickly met by criticism. Many of the criticism revolved around the concept of a stay at home mom, but some other concerns rang out as well. Another notable complaint stemmed from the idea that spouses should be left alone on the campaign trail. Families have often been looked at, but the debate as to whether or not they should be involved in the “mud-slinging” has yet to be settled.

President Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter sent a tweet out that read “Families must be off limits on campaigns, and I personally believe stay at home moms work harder than most of us do.” President Obama echoed a similar idea in a television interview. “I don’t have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates. My general view is those of us who are in the public life, we’re fair game. Our families are civilians,” said Obama.

Many wives take on the role of campaign on behalf of their husbands. Hilary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama have taken the same steps as Ann Romney in an effort to support their husbands. Some argue that due to the fact that they are actively involved in the campaign that makes them fair game to attack.

The criticism often doesn’t stop at the elections, either. Both Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama have come under fire multiple times for their wardrobe and style. In 2007 the Washington Post ran an article that spent the entire lead discussing the amount of cleavage that was slightly evident within Mrs. Clinton’s dress top and blazer. In 2009 an entire ABC article was dedicated to Michelle Obama’s seeming scandalous decision to wear sleeveless dresses.

How do you weigh in? Do spouses deserve the same spotlight as the presidential candidates? Or should the focus be somewhere other than the first lady?

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8 thoughts on “Are Politician’s Spouses Fair Game?

  1. Sarah says:

    It’s a tough situation needless to say. I think for the most part, spouses and families should be left out of the mudslinging. At the same time, however, when a spouse or family member takes that initiative to put their opinions out there on the front line, they are, in a way, opening themselves up to criticism. Overall, when a spouse or family member takes the time to convey their opinions to the public on important issues, they should understand and be ready to expect some harsh criticism.

  2. Corey says:

    The Supreme Court has decided that public officials are held to a higher standard than private officials. I believe that if a politician’s wife comments on policy or helps her spouse campaign, they should be held under the same spotlight as the politician. After all, they are acting pseudo politician. However, when it comes to “mud slinging,” they should not be a target or even involved. Unless they are commenting publicly on certain policy issues, then the media and everyone else should stay out of their lives. They are people too and have a right to privacy. The only way they can get out of that though it seems is to not speak a word. Just goes to show that once you are a politician, the family and everyone associated with you is criticized somehow.

    • I apologize for my late response. I find it interesting that you use the tern “pseudo politician”. I wonder, if a wife were to not assist in the campaign, would she receive criticism for not supporting her husband? It is a tricky situation all around.

  3. Kelly says:

    I feel like you have to accept some criticism of your spouse when you send them out to campaign for you. You are allowing them to become a face of the campaign. However, Hilary Rosen attacked Ann Romney personally. Again, I probably would not have thought anything if she had said it is Mitt Romney that has the disconnect with women voters and he should be out there himself earning their trust and respect. However, she took a personal dig at Mrs. Romney and that crossed the line. Saying she has no business out there trying to bridge the gap for him is one thing. Judging the decision she made as a mother, the same decision my husband and I made when our children were born, went too far. If you are going to criticize the spouse, stick to the campiagn issue and don’t presume that you have the right to personally judge the messenger.

    • I apologize for the late response. You make a very good point in the fact that Rosen judged Mrs. Romney instead of focusing on the conversation at hand. I think we saw in the aftermath that doing so causes bitter feelings for many people.

  4. Jules says:

    Spouses and families of men/women running for public office have always been scrutinized, judged, admired, it is part and parcel of wooing the electorate — JFK and Jackie,Bill and Hillary, Ron and Nancy, they are our First Families. Each Mrs. Wannabe has to campaign to show us who she is and in doing that gives us insight to the candidate and his positions. I am sick to death of the nastiness of this campaign, lies, distortions about the other guys’ positions…We have plenty of problems, what will it take to have a civil discourse? America seems to have lost its manners!

    • I apologize for the late response.You make a good point as well. It is likely that the First Lady will be involved in the President’s decisions to some degree, so I can definitely see why it is important we get to know the whole family, not just the man, during the election season.

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