The top Republican candidates put their wives to work over the holidays in a mad rush to tally up crucial votes before the Iowa Republican Caucus on Jan 3. And while it's not unusual for the good-husband image to pop up during a campaign, it feels more calculatingly family-oriented than years past.
Newt Gingrich and his third wife Callista Gingrich -- their marriage the result of an extramarital affair -- put out a Happy Holiday video on Dec 19. "Is there anything more inspiring than American towns and neighborhoods brightly lit for the holidays?” intoned his smiling wife.
Jon Huntsman's wife Mary Kay Huntsman has been campaigning for her husband in New Hampshire recently. And she even appeared on Late Night with David Letterman with her husband over the holidays.
While Rick Perry was campaigning in Iowa, wife Anita Perry was fielding questions about taxes, immigration and the death penalty at a New Hampshire retirement community. She also sang her husband's praises in an American Story political video in which Perry pops up (literally) behind her to say that "I really approve this message."
Mitt Romney tweeted love and respect for his wife, Ann Romney, over the holidays and linked to a video that includes her and plays up their long marriage. (Take that, Newt!)
Mrs. Romney is considered one of the most fashionable Republican spouses thanks to her fondness for bright colors, patterns and the always flattering wrap dress. Mrs. Gingrich favors figure-flattering suits, bright lipstick and a stiff-coiffed hairdo in an expensive white hue, all of which reminds us eerily us of Cindy McCain's cultivated upper-crust look. The third Mrs. Gingrich also reportedly has an appetite for Tiffany's jewelry. Better hide the bling, Callista. Diamonds don't well sit with out-of-work American voters.
While a politician's wife may say a lot about his character, so do his own clothes. And in that area, the wives may have some say in what their campaigning husbands wear -- and don't wear.
“Good lord, what have we come to?” Daniel James Cole, professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, said recently. “I read that Mitt Romney’s wife bought him Gap skinny jeans . . . We don’t think of jeans as being presidential.”
Maybe not. But denim is the favored fabric of the American working class and maybe -- at this point in U.S. history -- that's a good look for an aspiring president who wants to be seen as one of the 99 percent. Several pundits have made the same point (noticed all the missing ties during this campaign?) about the need for the more casual 'Every Man Look' in the Wall Street Journal. So maybe Ann Romney is onto something.
Besides, political fashion pundits used to say sweaters were unacceptable for a politician until President Jimmy Carter's famous cardigan-clad fireside chat in 1977.