The wives of the Republican presidential contenders—whose husbands have spent months taking shots at each other--don’t usually appear together in the same forum.
But on April 13 (yes, a Friday), Romney, Karen Santorum and Callista Gingrich will join in “A Conversation Off The Campaign Trail” for the ladies of the high-powered National Rifle Association.
The three—minus Ron Paul’s wife Carol, whose status as an invitee is the subject of some disagreement—will headline a women’s leadership luncheon at the 2012 NRA convention in St. Louis. Tickets range from $200 to $1,000 each for the event, which is closed to the media.
“We never received an invite
for this event,” says Gary Howard, the Ron Paul campaign spokesman, noting that the candidate “has a top rating from the Gun Owners of America.”
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam contends “Mrs. Paul was sent an invitation but we never received a response.”
Stay tuned to see how that one gets sorted out.
Meanwhile, Democrat Michelle Obama, the incumbent White House spouse, was categorically not invited, Arulalandam said. “The NRA will be actively campaigning against President Obama this election cycle.”
Though the would-be first ladies are not widely known for their hunting and shooting skills—which is not to say they haven’t bagged a pheasant or spent time in target practice—all recognize the vast firepower of the 4.3 million-member NRA and its influential lobbying
arm, the Institute for Legislative Action.
With the format and talking points of the luncheon still being worked out, we are left to speculate on what the wives might discuss.
As Mitt Romney marches closer to the nomination even as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum refuse to quit, will the wives act as policy surrogates? Will they tackle such hot-button issues as women’s reproductive rights, the budget, health care and, of course, gun legislation?
Will they touch on the good works they would promote should their respective husbands makes it to the White House? Music education for singer, pianist and French horn player Gingrich? Multiple sclerosis research and therapeutic horseback riding for Romney, who combats the effects of the former by engaging in the latter? The divinely-inspired decision for her mate's White House run, or possibly home schooling for Santorum, a nurse and a lawyer who oversaw the education of the couple’s seven children?
Will the wives keep it light and chatty, how gosh-darn fun and in touch with voters their guys are?
Will they joke about the rigors of campaigning, while offering helpful hints on no-wrinkle travel clothing, hurricane-proof hair products and staying slim while enduring endless rubber chicken banquets and ethno-regional food-fests? (Thank heavens for elegant culinary interludes such as the NRA luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel).
As an added bonus—perhaps playing into the stereotype that women just love to shop, there will also be silent and live auctions.
Some items are exotic, like the one-week African safari offering a pair of hunters “the opportunity to take" two impala two duiker (small antelopes) and two warthogs. Other items fashionably practical, like the leather purses designed for easy access to a concealed handgun.
The luncheon co-chairs have graciously donated items. From Susan LaPierre, wife of NRA chief Wayne LaPierre come “Chicks With Guns,” a coffee table book signed by author Lindsay McCrum, and a set of "AK Bullets & Pistol” ice cube trays. “Pop a few rounds of these gun and ammo shaped ice cubes into your party beverage and watch your guests enjoy those fully-loaded drinks,” touts the catalogue.
Suzie Brewster—avid turkey hunter, lobbyist and co-founder of the Washington Women’s Shooting Club—donated a “Furry Friend” mink teddy bear made from recycled garments, surplus or damaged pelts. The FF bears are a project of the Fur Commission USA, “representing more than 400 families raising furbearers on 300 farms in two dozen states.”
Ready, aim, bid…
Annie Groer is a former Washington Post and PoliticsDaily.com writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Times, Town & Country and More magazine. She is at work on a memoir.