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Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

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Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took reader questions.

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She the People
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Posted at 08:07 PM ET, 02/25/2012

Candidates’ wives provide a reality check

Let’s face it. We know the thought has gone through the head of every political wife who has stood silently on stage and smiled appreciatively as her husband gave the same speech, told the same story, cracked the same joke for the millionth time.

Ann Romney (L) speaks at a rally with her husband Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at the Kettering University Recreation Center Feb. 25, 2012 in Flint, Mich. (Bill Pugliano - Getty Images)

So it was disarming — and really funny, actually — when Ann Romney Saturday told an audience in Troy, Michigan: “Maybe I should just do all the talking and let him just stand here and watch me,”

Ann Romney is warm and beautiful, maternal and unthreatening. She is so appealing that the campaign puts her on stage whenever it can, knowing that she humanizes the candidate. Ann Romney herself laughs that she is the “Mitt stabilizer.”

But is there a double standard on getting a little edgy every now and then?

Would, say, Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama have gotten the same reaction with that remark?

Would Callista Gingrich ever consider saying something like that? (Something tells me that Carol Paul or Karen Santorum would.)

As for me, I’d love to hear more of this kind of reality check — from all of them. It is reassuring to think that when the Man Who Would Be President goes home, there is someone there to remind him that he’s mortal.

During the last presidential election, I did a cover story on the candidates’ spouses for Time Magazine. One of the best glimpses of their lives came from Barbara Richardson, a veteran of her husband Bill’s campaigns for the House and the New Mexico governorship before his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

She got up and spoke at a luncheon shortly before a debate in South Carolina and said:

“While Mr. Wonderful is out there campaigning, the rest of us as spouses are still schlepping through the airport to a commercial plane with kids in tow. We miss our connections. We’re standing in grocery-store lines, and frankly, we’re just trying to keep body and soul and house and home and family together, while they go out and make nice — Mr. Popularity!”

We hear you, ladies. In fact, we’d like to hear more of you.

By  |  08:07 PM ET, 02/25/2012

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