When are candidate spouses, family off limits?

Posted at 10:29 AM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 06:31:30-05

When are candidates’ spouses & family off limits?

This past week, Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton Round 2 began after it was announced that Bill would be joining the campaign to stump for his wife. Following earlier disagreements, Hillary accused the Donald of “sexism” in an interview. The next day, Trump’s twitter page posted a message mocking her about complaining about sexism. Hillary’s campaign all along has been campaigning for women’s support and she also tweeted earlier that “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported,” to which her opponents spit out their coffee when reading. Hillary defenders say voters shouldn’t judge her on her husband’s sins and that spouses' indiscretions shouldn’t be put on the candidates. Opponents say spousal behavior is absolutely fair game, especially when the spouse happens to be a former president and many of his indiscretions were committed in public office and/or with government employees.

For the millennial voters who were kids during the Clinton affairs saga in the 90’s, the Washington Post actually created a guide to get informed.

It seems every election there’s a discussion on whether spouses and kids can be fair game on the campaign trail and/or to what extent. Earlier this year, Marco Rubio and his wife made headlines after journalists dug up that they had accumulated a lot of traffic tickets and paid some hefty fines. Columba Bush has mostly stayed out of the fray but there was some coverage back of her exorbitant spending when she apparently lied on detailing how much she spent on a trip in Paris and later when she took out a loan of over $42K to spend at her favorite jewelry store.

In the last election cycle, Ann Romney and Michelle Obama were both critiqued for being out of touch in hard economic times by wearing extremely expensive clothing.

When asked, most people would agree that kids should be off limits but in this election alone, Ted Cruz’s daughters were already depicted as monkeys in a Washington Post cartoon which was walked back after outcry. In past elections and administrations, the Bush twins were put on the front page for partying in college, and the Palin family remains media fodder. Even post-election, Mitt Romney’s family was attacked as his African-American grandson was wearing a pink polo in a family portrait released to the media.

So is there a difference when the candidate's spouse was also a former president? It is unprecedented. So far, other spouses have been able to stay out of the media’s firing line including Jane Sanders and our former Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley.

O’Malley fails to dazzle Iowa voter despite one-on-one meeting

It was not a good week for our former Gov. Martin O’Malley who is still struggling in his campaign for the White House. Much ado was made on both sides of the aisle after one brave man showed up at an event in Iowa this past week. To be fair, there was a bad winter storm in the area. While O’Malley was probably trying to gain some ground while his opponents canceled appearances, unfortunately it backfired with a picture seen around the political world of his “rally” sitting down one-on-one with his attendee. Not only that, the Iowa voter says he’s still undecided after having a presidential candidate all to himself, per the report from Politico. Though, O’Malley claims he was “glad to see me.” O’Malley explained later in an interview with MSNBC that the people of Iowa “want to see the whole campaign play out” before choosing a candidate. Ok….

Then on New Year’s Eve, it was released that he failed to gain enough credible signatures to make the ballot in Ohio. 
Other political headlines of note:

Former New York Gov George Pataki dropped out of the race for president.

And famed BSO conductor Marin Alsop made some controversial comments in an interview with the BBC on the Baltimore riots that occurred in April: “It’s heartbreaking that we haven’t dealt with these issues, that it requires violence, which I think it does require, to be honest, to change this equation.”