Debate: Do a Candidate's Parenting Skills Have Anything to Do with Effectiveness as a Leader?

Newt Gingrich InterviewOne of our goals when interviewing Newt Gingrich on Friday was to show you a more personal side of this presidential candidate. After all, I had read enough about his daughters and grandchildren to know that a dynamic father and grandfather was hiding beneath that professorial veneer. Luckily for us, Newt had no problems opening up about his personal life, and openly wept as he talked about his own mother.

Of course, Newt's hardly the only candidate with a compelling parenting story; I'll tell you about some of the other candidates' surprising parenting backgrounds after the jump. But in the meantime, this is as good a week as any to ask our political bloggers the following question:

Is a candidate's parenting skills a good indication of what kind of leader he or she will be?


I've been asking moms and dads this question now for a few months, and I find it very interesting that almost all women say "Yes! Of course!" and almost all men say, "Heck no!"

When it comes to voting, women seem to rely not only on information about a candidate's platform, but also on a sort of 'sixth sense' about that candidate's honesty and integrity. Women, therefore, love all the personal information on a candidate that they can get. At our forum, Newt's tears definitely worked with the moms, but only because they were convinced (and so was I) that those tears were authentic. Had they seemed at all contrived, those moms would have turned on him quickly.

But if you want to see a parenting confession from a candidate that made me cry (and this has nothing to do with how I feel about him as a candidate- I just empathized as a mom), check out this CafeMom video of Rick Santorum:

I really appreciated Rick Santorum's transparency in this moment. It hasn't affected how I feel about his ability as a candidate, but it most certainly has changed the way I view him as a person.

Michele Bachmann claims to have raised 23 foster children. Reporters have questioned the veracity of that statement, but even if the number is actually lower, the fact that she did it at all is pretty impressive in my book. I assume that her heart for children in need comes from her own background growing up. Check out this video:

Less is known about Rick Perry's kids, Griffin and Sydney. Both are in their twenties now and haven't participated much in their father's campaign. Gov. Perry did share a few of his Christmas traditions recently and MSNBC reported on it.

Mitt Romney seems to be raising a brood of young Kennedys. His grown sons, in addition to being compared by reporters to models from a Ralph Lauren ad, have been stumping quite a bit for their father on the campaign trail. There's no doubt that the Romney family is a close one.

Jon Huntsman's daughters also seem close to their parents -- The trio of adult girls has been making the rounds on the political shows and creating parody videos for their dad on YouTube.

Finally, Sasha and Malia Obama seem to have a father who makes spending time with his girls a priority. I read an article recently saying that President Obama eschews the company of politicans during his time off, preferring to spend his time instead playing Wii with his family or getting together with close friends and their families for dinner and a game of Taboo. This may not make for great presidential strategy, but it certainly speaks well of him as a father, don't you think?

This is all interesting information, of course, but do these candidates' parenting abilities affect how well they can run the country?

Here's what our political bloggers have to say on the subject:

Good Parents Make Good Presidents

The Way Presidential Candidates Raise Their Kids Matters

Presidents Should be Elected for Their Policy Positions Not Their Parenting Skills

President Barack Obama Might Be a Good Parent But He's a Really Bad Parent

A Leader, Not a Parent, Should Be President

Read More >