The Year of the Politics of the Wife?

Wives have played key roles in several GOP nomination trajectories this year. Newt Gingrich appears to be the latest example.

First, it was Haley Barbour, who appears not to have run in part because his wife didn’t want him to.

Then, it was  Mitch Daniels, who appears not to have run because, at least in part, he wanted to spare his wife uncomfortable media scrutiny.

Now, a wife related issue seems to be at the heart of Newt Gingrich’s campaign implosion.  So writes Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard’s blog:  The Problem Was the Wife:

Several aides, including campaign manager Rob Johnson, met with Gingrich on Thursday morning and told him of the senior staff’s unanimous decision to quit. Gingrich later put out a statement saying he was staying in the race.

The last straw for the campaign staff was Gingrich’s decision to go on a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean, from which he returned on Tuesday. His advisers urged him not to go and take so much time from a campaign that was already in trouble. But his wife wanted him to go and she won the argument.

With Newt, it somehow always comes back to wives, doesn’t it?

Beyond that, it is interesting (although ultimately not all that surprising) the role that wives of candidates/potential candidates seem to be playing this year.

At a minimum, I think it underscores the difficulties and demands associated with a modern campaign for a major party nomination.  In the cases of Barbour and Daniels, the calculations were made, with clear consideration to spouses, that those demands were not worth it.  In the Gingrich case it would appear that choosing not to fully engage in those demands (at the seeming behest of a spouse) caused serious harm to said campaign.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. MSS says:

    Implosions involving The Newt are always overdetermined.

  2. Another thought is that this may also be a reflection of changing gender roles. Could anyone have imagined Jackie O telling JFK she didn’t want him to run for President, or Mamie saying that to Ike?

  3. TG Chicago says:

    Another thought is that this may also be a reflection of changing gender roles. Could anyone have imagined Jackie O telling JFK she didn’t want him to run for President, or Mamie saying that to Ike?

    I don’t know if that’s a particularly recent change. I can imagine that dynamic playing out with Bill/Hillary, George/Barbara, and Ronnie/Nancy. Probably even going back to FDR/Eleanor.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Colin Powell cited Alma’s adamant objections as a major reason he never ran.

    To some extent, I think these concerns are legitimate. On the other hand, these are people who’ve been in the spotlight their whole lives. I strongly suspect that this is of a piece with candidates who “decide” to “not run” in Iowa or New Hampshire, having calculated that they can’t win.

  5. @MSS: Indeed.

    @James:

    Good additional example.

    But yes, the lacking of winning thing is likely rather significant.