Inside The 2008 Candidates' Marriages

The Obamas

Tango's take on the relationships of potential 2008 First Couples.

Here's something else these three pairs of accomplished Democratic spouses share: no divorces. In contrast, two leading Republican candidates have more complicated marital histories. John McCain and his first wife, Carol, divorced in 1980; soon afterwards, he married Cindy Hensley, heiress to a major Anheuser-Busch distributor. And Rudy Giuliani’s marital history could inspire a soap opera. His marriage to his first wife (and second cousin), Regina Peruggi, was annulled by the Catholic Church after 14 years on the grounds that the couple had not received the church dispensation required when second cousins marry. His second marriage, to actress and journalist Donna Hanover, produced two children but ended in tabloid hell when Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, announced in a press conference that the couple was kaput. Reportedly, he neglected to tell Hanover first, who fired back with her own tearful press conference.

"Giuliani definitely has a screw loose when it comes to marriage," says Pittman. "You’ve got to see this guy as defective." In 2003, Giuliani married divorcee Judith Nathan (he maintains they became involved only 12 months before his divorce, but gossipmongers say they had been an item for years). His current campaign website gives no clue of any of this romantic complexity, presenting Wife No. 3 as his one and only.

Soap operas aside, spouses still play a major role in voters' views of the candidates. Electing a First Lady (or First Husband) is not unlike electing a vice president. The spouse is a president’s most intimate advisor, and the public image of a relationship can make or break a campaign. In the last election, Teresa Heinz Kerry’s outspokenness was widely viewed as damaging. "I think she was a nut and an abrasive nut at that," says Real. "What kind of guy would be married to this? Is he in it for the dough?" Teresa also tended to talk a lot about her first husband, ketchup heir John Heinz, who was killed in a plane crash. That made her current husband appear to be a poor substitute. "She was still in love with her first husband," says Pat Love, a marriage therapist and coauthor of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. "She made it really clear that 'this isn’t my real husband.'" What lesson should spouses take from her devastating performance? "Never miss an opportunity to shut up," advises Love.