Politics & Government

All about the spouses

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton officially unveiled one of her biggest weapons this week in Myrtle Beach - her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton did not win South Carolina on his way to the White House. But black African-American voters love the former president. That’s an advantage for Hillary Clinton in the state’s January Democratic primary, where half or more of the voters are expected to be black African-American.

If Bill Clinton is the most popular spouse of a wannabe wanta-be president - at least among Democrats - how do the others fare? A look at the early superlatives.

Most vocal

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the Democratic presidential hopeful. Elizabeth Edwards made headlines by declaring her husband, a Seneca native, more electable than Clinton, saying “hatred” of Clinton would energize Republicans. She also took on conservative shock commentator Ann Coulter who once called Edwards “gay.”

Most visible

Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Michelle Obama has been on a long, successful speaking tour where in which observers say her poise and wit might may exceed her husband’s. Her role has been to attract the pivotal women’s vote.

Most controversial

Judith Giuliani, wife of former New York /City/ Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican hopeful. She, like her husband, is on her third marriage. That fact, made public in New York tabloids this spring, had the city abuzz. Then, there’s the history of their relationship. The two met when Rudy Giuliani still was mayor and still was married. The relationship has been constant fodder for the tabloids.

Most talked about

Jeri Thompson, wife of former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican hopeful from Tennessee. Is she a trophy wife or not? Some see it that way when they see the blond, statuesque, 40-something Jeri Thompson standing next to her husband, who is 65. But Jeri Thompson, a former political and media consultant, is playing an active role in her husband’s campaign. Her role is so prominent that some close to the campaign have whispered she’s the source of some reported staff turmoil.