When America elects a president, a first lady often comes with him … for better or worse.
During Thursday’s CNN debate, the four remaining GOP candidates flattered their wives, sharing why they would make good leading ladies.
While most of their answers were secondary to policy questions, likely voters were treated to gushing words from most of the candidates about their wives and the fun fact that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s current wife — the woman with whom he cheated on his second wife — Callista, is artistic and plays the French horn.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul pointed out that he has been married to his wife, Carol, for 54 years with an anniversary upcoming in February.
“She’s the mother of our five children and she is a grandmother of 18 grandchildren and does an excellent job,” said Paul with a smile. “She is also the author of a very famous cookbook ‘The Ron Paul Cookbook!’”
Mitt Romney approached the question seriously, praising his wife of 42 years, Ann, as a model of strength, having overcome multiple diseases.
“My wife is also a mom, and as I pointed out early on, but in some respects, she’s a real champion and a fighter. She was diagnosed in 1998 with multiple sclerosis and more recently with breast cancer,” he said, leaving out the fact that Gingrich left his second wife shortly after she was diagnosed with MS. “She has battled both successfully and as first lady, she will be able to reach out to people who are also struggling and suffering and she will be some one who shows compassion and care.”
When asked about how his third wife Callista would be as first lady, Gingrich praised the three other candidates’ wives, before going to to tell the crowd how artistic his wife of 11 years is.
“Callista brings a couple of things: one is a tremendous artistic focus. She’s done a video in music education, she has a pianist background, she plays the French horn in community band, sings in the choir,” he said quickly. “She really cares about the arts and would bring a really strong feeling for music education and for art and why it matters to people, as part of their education.”
Gingrich added that Callista, 23 years his junior, is very patriotic, has spent time reaching out to children to help them learn about America, and that he would like to “hang out” with her in the White House.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s wife of more than 20 years, Karen, was not in attendance, as she was off being a mother to their seven children, he said.
“She’s my hero. She’s someone who is — has been well educated, she was a neo-natal intensive care nurse for nine years, one of the most advanced nurseries in the country,” he said. “She went on to — because she saw all the ethical challenges there — she went on and got a law degree to deal with those in the legal world. And then when she got married, she gave that up, she walked away and walked into something that she felt called to do, which was to be a mom and to be a wife. And we’ve had eight children, we were blessed to be raising seven. We’ve been through a lot together — losing a child, having a child with a disability that we have now, our little Bella — and the amount of love for these special kids is just palpable.”