October 23rd, 2007
01:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Shriver: First ladies should influence husbands

Watch Wolf Blitzer's interview with Shriver in the Situation Room.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday she hopes political spouses influence their husbands’ decisions and strategies.

“Do they influence their husband? I hope so. I hope so,” California's first lady said. “I hope that that is the kind of marriage that political leaders have, where they listen to their wife or to their husband.”

Shriver, who is hosting a joint discussion Wednesday in Long Beach, California with the spouses of the leading presidential candidates, also said she believes first ladies are taking on more substantive roles than in the past.

“I think the days of the ceremonial first lady are over. These are independent women. Several of them have had professional lives long before they found themselves in this situation,” she said. “And they don't need advisers to say, ‘Don't say this and don't say that.’”

"And they are not shy about saying that they have influence and that they are involved in the strategy of the campaign," she added.

Of the presidential candidate's spouses, only Judith Giuliani, wife of Republican Rudy Giuliani, and former president Bill Clinton, husband of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are not slated to attend Shriver's event. Both cited scheduling conflicts.

- CNN Producer Xuan Thai

Filed under: Maria Shriver
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. bprossersme

    CNN what is your problem? When someone takes the time to comment to your stories, it is nice if the comment is included with the other comments. However, my comments are printed maybe 1 in 4. What give with you anyway? Are you legit or not?

    October 24, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. M.L. Owens, Brooklyn, NY

    Seems utterly natural for a spouse to offer advice. Are the spouses of politicians expected to shut up for life upon their husband/wife becoming elected? I should hope not. Most married couples talk about issues that affect them personally. So why not political issues too? After all, it's been done for time immemorial, as anybody living in this century must realize (ie Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Bess and Harry Truman, the Johnsons, et cetera). Why does a political spouse have to nip it in the bud and become a lipsticked zombie herding children and pouring tea? Good advice is good advice, wherever it comes from. Ditto bad advice, which can easily come from someone on your payroll (Rumsfeld, anyone?) as from the person you married.

    October 24, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Mike from Cleveland wrote to me:

    "I see so you think she isn't allowed to speak her mind? Or she can't give advice because she is a woman? Even President Lincoln and FDR relied on advice from their wives when faced with a dilemma. Whether a paid consultant or not, doesn't matter, she should be allow to speak..."

    No, bud, you totally have it wrong. I don't care how much she talks. Hell, she can flap her gums until her jaw fuses open. I really don't care.

    What I DO care about, though, is the fact that she was NOT ELECTED, yet she thinks she entitled to flap her gums with the authority of her governor husband, as if she herself was the governor. In the military, we had situations like this, in which civilian spouses would "wear their husbands rank." "Do you know who I am? I am Col So-and-So's wife." Well, la-tee-frikken-dah.

    And the fact that she is a woman is irrelevant. Don't try pinning that stupid "sexist" label on me. You're being silly in even trying.

    Our old friends, the Clintons, tried to pull this crap in the Nineties... "yuk yuk yuk, har har har... ya git two fer one with the Clintons."

    Well, I didn't vote for two, I voted for one... you know, the one on the ballot, the one actually going through the electoral process. The coattail rider (i.e. the one NOT on the ballot) is simply a carpetbagger.

    No more of this nonsense whereby spouses (men or women) ride the coattails of his/her politician-spouse.

    Again, if you want to become a politician, fine... put your hat in the ring, put your name on the ballot and be willing to travel through the meat grinder with every other politician. But don't try to skirt the process and give us this "two for one" BS.

    October 24, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    My point wasn't to pin the sexist label on you, though I can understand why you thought I was attempting that. I should have been more clear, my apologies if you were offended.

    Back to my original point/post:
    I agree with your assertion that "getting a two for one deal" isn't the right way to campaign. I also agree that riding coattails of your spouse to seek high office later is BS. They should start at the bottom of pile like every one else if you want to get involved in politics.

    However, Shriver's forum was addressing the concept of first ladies/spouses taking a hands on roll in campaigns, etc. I don't believe that Shriver was doing this because she is the governor’s wife and wants attention. I think she was trying to give a woman’s perspective about campaigning for their spouse or how they influence their spouse's views during their time in office. I'm not sure if you read the whole article or not; the headline is somewhat misleading. Frankly I think this forum is pretty benign. It helps give other women in the American public a relaxed look at the different personalities of spouses of presidential candidates. I think this was an interesting forum that more women should take an interest in, especially since she included spouses from both parties.

    Question Eric: I suspect that you don't like Democrats based on reading previous posts on other tickers. Do you think that your dislike of Democrats may have influenced your disapproval of this forum, seeing that Shriver is a former Kennedy? BTW, I'm not mocking you for your beliefs, this is an honest question.

    October 24, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
1 2