Jeri Thompson, Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, Elizabeth Edwards, and Cindy McCain put aside the competitiveness of the campaign trail on Tuesday to talk about being political spouses.
(CNN) – Fifteen years after Hillary Clinton made her then-controversial comment about being a career woman and not staying home to bake cookies, the wives of five contenders for the White House gathered in California Tuesday to discuss their involvement in their husband’s presidential campaigns.
The wives’ discussion with moderator Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, began with Shriver pointing out that the gathering was historic. “Never before,” Shriver said, have political spouses, “gathered together to talk about their lives, to talk about the campaign trail, to talk about what it’s like when someone from your family gets up and runs for president.”
And talk they did. Shriver asked Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, what she had feared or worried about in the early days of her husband contemplating a run for the White House. “You always worry about your life getting sucked out from under you,” Mrs. Obama responded. “I’m very practical, I have to know how is this going to play out.”
For her part, Jeri Thompson, wife of Fred Thompson, sought to dash persistent reports that she has a prominent, strategic role in her husband’s presidential campaign. “I have a one-year-old,” Thompson said. “And, I have a four-year-old. That’s my main role,” Thompson said. “Other than that, I do what I can to help when he asks me.”
Elizabeth Edwards was not as modest as Jeri Thompson in explaining her involvement in John Edwards’ campaign. “We do know our husbands best. Sometimes if we think he’s being misrepresented or misserved by something, it’s our jobs as wives to say, ‘you know, I don’t think that’s really the best thing,’” said Edwards.
Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain and a veteran of a past White House run, brought a different perspective to the discussion. “My boundaries changed from 2000 to this race,” she said. “I have now myself learned to say no” to some of the demands of a presidential campaign.
Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, spoke about the pressures of being a political wife. Gesturing towards Elizabeth Edwards, Romney rejected the assumption that statements or stances taken by the women always originate from their husband’s campaigns. “You have to be who you are. You have to have the flexibility and the luxury of expressing yourself for who we are as individuals,” said Romney.
The discussion was part of the 2007 Women’s Conference, a non-partisan annual event put on by California’s governor and first lady for the last twenty years. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, Shriver said former President Bill Clinton did not participate in the spouses’ panel because of a scheduling conflict and that Judith Giuliani, wife of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “declined to attend.”
- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former attorney general and prominent Republican Richard Thornburgh Tuesday accused the Justice Department of an improper political prosecution in indicting one of his clients, who was then a local Democratic official in Pittsburgh.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Thornburgh was praised by Democrats and criticized by fellow Republicans when he told the panel that Cyril Wecht, the former elected Allegheny County coroner, was indicted by a federal prosecutor whom he believed was "trying to curry favor" with the Bush Administration.
A grand jury indicted Wecht in 2006 on 84 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and theft. The prosecution in the case accused him of cheating the citizens of Allegheny County and the clients of his private forensics firm.
Thornburgh, who served as attorney general under the first President Bush, raised broader doubts about the fairness of the Justice Department, saying the department must act "without actual political influence or the appearance of political influence."
"Unfortunately, that may no longer be the case," Thornburgh said.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Coming off a strong performance at the Value Voter's Summit earlier this week, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is drawing praise with social conservatives.
Is it enough to lead to success at the polls? CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla takes a look at Huckabee's efforts in New Hampshire and how he continues to surprise potential voters.
Sen. Clinton said she is 'really happy' she made the decision to stay with husband Bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton is quite the romantic husband, according to wife Hillary.
The Democratic presidential frontrunner discusses her relationship with her famous spouse in the latest issue of Essence Magazine, describing how the former president often showers her with gifts when returning from trips abroad.
"He's so romantic. He's always bringing me back things from his trips," the New York senator told the magazine. "He brought me a giant wooden giraffe from Africa. Oh, he bought me this watch…I had dental surgery, and he said it reminded him of teeth.”
Clinton adds she is "really happy" she decided to stay with her husband following the news of his affair in 1996 with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
"Obviously we've had challenges as everybody in the world knows," she told the magazine. “But I never doubted that it was a marriage worth investing in even in the midst of those challenges and I'm really happy that I made that decision."
"Again, not a decision for everybody," she continued. "And I think it's so important for women to stand up for the right of women to make a decision that is best for them.”
Clinton also describes her first impressions of the future president when passing him by chance at Yale Law School in 1971.
"I thought he was very attractive. I mean, he was tall. At the time he had long hair and a red beard. His hair was much more red-gold, and it was curly, and he had a vikingesque beard."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who in recent days has taken on his opponents over immigration, called for federal funds Tuesday to be cut off for cities that don’t crack down on illegal immigration.
Thompson, surrounded by police officers at a roundtable in Naples, Florida, outlined his first proposals on immigration reform. Thompson’s plan would address increased enforcement by adding at least 25,000 border patrol officers, doubling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and finishing a wall on the US/Mexico border.
The former Tennessee senator also called for action against so-called “sanctuary cities”. He said discretionary federal funding should be eliminated for states and cities that don’t report illegal immigrants and said, “We need to tell them, if you’re going to have sanctuary cities in violation of the law, you’re not getting federal money."
Thompson has directly criticized former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for his handling of immigration while in office, and accused former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney of not speaking out against sanctuary cities until recently. But rival campaigns returned the favor, attacking Thompson on the issue.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Tuesday that he will donate $10,000 from his campaign's war chest to the Red Cross, and send firefighters from his home state to help fight the California wildfires.
"These fires have been a tragedy for the entire state and my sympathy and concern goes out to the victims and their families," Richardson said in a statement. "We have offered the state of California the full assistance of New Mexico's resources and stand ready to help any way we can."
Richardson is sending two strike teams of firefighters from New Mexico to help protect structures in California. He said they will head to Chino Tuesday night and stay for two weeks.
"New Mexico is fortunate to have no major fires and have the resources available," said Richardson. "Neighbors should help neighbors in their time of need. So, I’m ordering two strike teams to answer’s California’s request and help fight this unprecedented fire.”
- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - Former Sen. Fred Thompson's absence from the Granite State is taking a toll with at least one supporter.
Dan Hughes, one of Thompson’s former New Hampshire top advisors announced today he is joining Sen. John McCain’s, R-Arizona, presidential campaign.
"Senator McCain understands the value and purpose of New Hampshire's
first-in-the-nation primary and the importance of building a strong
grassroots organization in the Granite State," Hughes said in a press
Hughes who accompanied Sen. McCain on his run through the state Tuesday,
later elaborated on his decision outside a granite factory in Concord.
“I was involved with the Thompson campaign. When we started out I was told that we would run a full-blown campaign up here. It became obvious that they were not going to do that and they were running more of a token campaign and
I didn’t want to be the token chairman of a token campaign. I don’t think you can win without campaigning.”
Giuliani while being instructed by New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner on where to sign, said jokingly, "If I sign there, can you sign here?" - pointing to the blank date on his application.
Giuliani later turned to Gardner and asked "Can you give us a hint?"
"Not quite," Gardner responded.
Giuliani did note the significance of keeping New Hampshire the first primary state and later told reporters he would not "get involved" with any Republican National Committee penalties against the state.
On Monday Republican Party leaders recommended punishing New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan and Wyoming for pushing their contests ahead in the calendar. The penalty would strip these five states of half their delegates.
- CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla
McCain compliments Huckabee.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Aboard his 'Straight-Talk' express, CNN asked Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, if he would consider former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as his running mate.
McCain didn't comment on a potential vice presidential pick, but praised the former Arkansas governor.
"I think Gov. Huckabee is a fine man," McCain said. "I've had the opportunity to get know Hucakabee during this campaign. We have differences on several issues but I tell you, I think he’s the real deal. I really do," he said.
He then added, "And I think he has performed well in this campaign."
- CNN New Hamsphire Producer Sareena Dalla
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Pete Stark, D-California, apologized Tuesday on the House floor for his recent comments saying troops in Iraq were getting "their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
The apology came shortly after House Republicans failed in their effort to formally censure Stark for the remark.
"I do apologize, and for this reason, I think that we have a serious issue before us, the issue of providing medical care to children, the issue of what we do about a war that we are divided about how to end," Stark said. "I hope that with this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and that we can return to the issues that do divide us, but that we can resolve in a better fashion."
Democrats successfully blocked a resolution by a 196-173 vote to censure Stark for "personally abusive language toward the president and members of the House" and "despicable conduct."
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Stark "dishonored our soldiers" and said the House can't "afford to let these kinds of remarks go unanswered."
Stark made the controversial comments during a debate over President Bush's veto of children's health care legislation last week.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich