One has a life-threatening illness. One broke up her husband's earlier marriage. Several are more charismatic, and more beloved, than their mates. Never before have candidates' spouses played such an important and unpredictable role in a presidential election, writes Emily Yoffe in the Washington Post—whether they're assets, like the articulate, passionate Michelle Obama, or liabilities, like the third Mrs. Giuliani.
In Iowa both Elizabeth Edwards and Bill Clinton have been stealing the spotlight from their supposedly better halves. The conspicuously young wives of Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich make them look not "more vigorous and vital but much, much older," Yoffe observes. And Mitt and Ann Romney seem too perfect to be real. Yoffe wishes that candidates' spouses could emulate Cécilia Sarkozy, who refused to campaign with her husband and didn't bother to vote—although that story didn't have a happy ending.