In a Presidential Election, Do Spouses Matter?

Rick and Karen SantorumOne of the most interesting aspects of our two most recent CafeMom Coffee Breaks with presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former presidential candidate Rick Perry was getting the opportunity to talk to them with their wives by their sides.

Both men seemed strengthened by their wives' presence. Rick and Anita Perry met in elementary school and have been married for 30 years. Rick and Karen Santorum have been married 22 years and have seven living children together, one with a serious genetic disorder. An eighth child was born prematurely and died.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich's ex-wives have been causing him nothing but problems with the press lately -- so we thought this week would be a good time to ask our political bloggers the following questions: How much does a candidate's spouse affect your voting decision? And what role should the candidate's spouse play in an election?

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As you probably saw for yourself on television this past week, Newt's second wife, Marianne, told an ABC News reporter that Newt asked her for an open marriage after revealing his six-year affair with Callista Bisek, then a House of Representatives staffer.

Voters didn't seem to care much about Marianne's revelations, though -- Newt went on to win the South Carolina primary. Perhaps much of the reason that Newt's past indiscretions haven't hurt him is because at this point, they're ancient history. He's been married to Callista for 11 years, reconciled with his family, converted to Catholicism, and the pair are active in their church.

Of all the candidates, Ron Paul has been married the longest -- 55 years and counting! Ron Paul married when he was just 22, and the couple have five children together.

Mitt and Ann Romney are a close second -- they met in elementary school, reconnected in college, and have been married 43 years. FORTY-THREE YEARS. They do not look old enough to have been married that long! Together, they've had five sons. One thing you may not know about Ann is that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and is currently in remission. In 2005, Mitt said publicly that if his wife's MS began giving her problems, he wouldn't be involved in politics anymore.

All of these women have primarily acted as the wind beneath their husbands' wings, appearing by their sides at campaign events and speaking in support of their spouses' policies, but having few opinions of their own. Is this as it should be, or would you like to see these spouses be more outspoken?

Here's what our Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers have to say:

A Spouse Can Make (Or Break) a Presidential Candidate's Campaign

Candidate's Wives Should Support the Man -- Not the Politician

Presidential Candidates, Their Spouses & Persuasive Pillow Talk

What Happened to the 'Good Wife' Factor?

First Ladies Are Not Presidents

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