Each First Lady—from Martha Washington to Laura Bush—has interpreted the job through the prisms of her personality, life experience, and the tenor of the times. Eleanor Roosevelt was both a beloved and reviled figure as she traveled the world on behalf of her husband, who was disabled by polio. Just a few years later, the country embraced Mamie Eisenhower, known for her thriftiness (she clipped coupons for the White House staff), her recipe for "million dollar fudge," and her love of ultra-feminine clothes. Jackie Kennedy personified an international glamour as the U.S. grew into the role of global superpower. And Betty Ford courageously decided to use her struggles against breast cancer and later, substance abuse, to educate the public; her openness about her own problems saved many thousands of lives.
In these media-intense days, the ideal political spouse does her (or his) most important work behind the scenes. "I think that the greatest source of happiness is a happy marriage, and I think a happy person will do a better job of governing," says Cloe Madanes, coauthor of Love & Passion: The Ultimate Relationship Program. "Ronald and Nancy Reagan definitely had a good marriage. She put him in front of her as more important, always." So who in the current crop fits that bill? And what can we expect from the spouses of the current frontrunners? Click on each couple below to learn more. ________________________________________________________________
Barbara Kantrowitz is a senior writer for Newsweek.
Click On Each Couple To Read More:
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON AND BILL CLINTON
JOHN EDWARDS AND ELIZABTH ANANIA EDWARDS
RUDY GIULIANI AND JUDITH STICH GIULIANI
MIKE AND JANET HUCKABEE
JOHN MCCAIN AND CINDY HENSLEY MCCAIN
BARACK OBAMA AND MICHELLE ROBINSON OBAMA
RON AND CAROL WELLS PAUL
MITT AND ANN DAVIES ROMNEY