Rosalynn Carter, whose soft Southern manner often belies her powerful position as the president's right-hand woman, may begin downplaying her role to ward off criticism that she has too much control over her husband's administration.
"#She's going to be hunkering down a little," said one of the first lady's advisers after this month's highly publicized campaign trip across the country. "She's already anticipating the criticism" and worries that "too much is being made of her position."
"I expect that she'll stay out of the spotlight for a while," said another adviser who deals with the first lady not only on social matters but on the politics of her husband's presidency. "She may not give any more interviews for a while."
As Mrs. Carter forged into the heartlands to soothe potential voters about the upheaval in her husband's administration, signs emerged that she is coming into public focus as a strong, politically astute, no-frills "Mrs. President," as one of her fans put it.
As a result of this exposure, which will be heightened with major stories about her in Time and Newsweek this week, she is earning support from people who are glad to see a woman in power, no matter how she got there.
But such attention is also gaining enemies who grouse that they voted for Jimmy Carter for president in 1976, not for Rosalynn. Republican aides of potential presidential candidates say the Carters are running the White House like "a mom and pop store."
Since Carter first declared in 1974 that he wanted to move from Georgia to the White House, advisers like Jody Powell, Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon have been saying that Rosalynn is his most trusted adviser. Although they are members of Carter's so-called inner circle, they often admit that they are excluded from the most select circle - Rosalynn and Jimmy.