By Sandra Kobrin<br />WeNews commentator” align=”right”/></p>
<p><P>(WOMENSENEWS)–Hillary’s campaign has apparently unleashed a bit too much of Bill.</P><P>Yes, he worked his magic in New Hampshire after all the media bad-mouthing. But at this point he’s overpowering and overshadowing. His bluster on the campaign trail, his contentious remarks about Barack Obama–particularly his comparison of Obama’s victory to those of Jesse Jackson in the past, which were perceived as ghettoizing–have all backfired.</P><P>Not only did Hillary lose South Carolina, where he acted as her surrogate, he is considered a major factor in Ted Kennedy’s politically momentous decision to endorse Obama ahead of Super Duper Tuesday next week.</P><P>Bill’s high profile is cramping Hillary’s style big time. Her candidacy is being called “Billary,” following the tabloid approach to other overly merged celebrity pairs “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt and Angilina Jolie) and “Tomkat” (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes).</P><P>Like her rivals, Hillary needs a spouse in the background, a smiling, supportive partner who can attack the other candidates without stealing the spotlight, who can get away with comments that go under the radar, lend support and even innuendo.</P><P>Take, for example Michele Obama’s swipe at Hillary’s marriage problems last August: “Our view is that if you can’t run your own house you certainly can’t run the White House.” It garnered some attention and made it onto the Drudge report, which functions as a journalism tip sheet. But the media machine rolled on. A similar comment by Bill Clinton would have ignited a firestorm.</P><P>What Hillary needs now–in the parlance of a bygone time but still a fact of campaign life–is a political wife.</P></p>
<h2>Enter Chelsea</h2>
<p><P>Enter Chelsea, the strategically softening response to all the brouhaha over Bill’s bullying of the past two weeks.</P><P>Chelsea, now 27, has been at her mother’s side throughout this campaign, but mainly keeping silent.</P><P>Now she’s off the bench and on the campaign trail as a strong, calm voice providing the intelligent, passionate, committed, “wifely” vibe that Bill can’t offer.</P><P>According to the Los Angeles Times, she’s been canvassing California, talking to sororities at her alma mater, Stanford University, and also at UCLA. Last week she was at the Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, in Columbia, S.C., smiling, nodding and singing; looking very wife-like opposite Michelle Obama.</P><P>Neither woman spoke at the pulpit, but Chelsea’s presence told a new story in the Clinton campaign.</P><P>This week Chelsea is in for the full court press in Utah. She is scheduled for “town hall meetings,” one at the University of Utah and the other at Weber State. She’s also meeting with senior citizens and young professionals, according to printed reports in the Salt Lake Tribune.</P></p>
<h2>She Talks About the Candidate</h2>
<p><P>“She’ll talk about the campaign. She will talk about why Hillary will make a great 44th president of the United States,” said Caroline Cole, the Utah field director for the Hillary Clinton campaign.</P><P>Just like any good wife would!</p>
<p><P>Chelsea has taken a leave from her work at Avenue Capital, a $12 billion New York-based hedge fund run by longtime Clinton donor Marc Lasry. According to campaign finance records, Avenue Capital employees have contributed more than $30,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.</P><P>Political wives have been a vital factor in presidential politics since the 1950s, when women became the majority of the voting electorate.</P><P>At that point the Republican National Committee made a strategic decision to play up the wives of candidates Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon (Ike and Dick). “Mamie and Pat” buttons were distributed and the two women were used in print and on TV to emphasize traditional family values.</P><P>Mamie’s adoring and supportive looks at Ike were mentioned during television interviews and Pat’s appearance with the family dog, Checkers, and their daughters was used to soften Nixon.</P><P>After Hillary’s renovation of the first lady role, political wives today have a lot more room to maneuver and can assume a much more serious profile.</P></p>
<h2>Wives Playing Key Roles</h2>
<p><P>Elizabeth Edwards tours the country with her husband, introducing him at rallies and sitting for numerous interviews. Michelle Obama, the daughter of a Chicago Democratic party leader, is regularly out campaigning, a strong intelligent voice on the campaign trail.</P><P>But they lack Bill’s star power and therefore stop short of his tendency to monopolize the moment.</P><P>This past October, five wives of candidates joined together to discuss their roles in the 2008 campaign in a forum hosted by Maria Shriver, the former NBC correspondent who is married to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Women made up the majority of the 14,000 at that event in Long Beach, Calif.</P><P>Conspicuous by their absence were Bill Clinton and Judith Giuliani.</P><P>Rudy Giuliani’s third wife has kept a low profile after a media frenzy erupted over her disclosure of an ex-husband that nobody had known about, which brought her divorce count into parity with his.</P><P>Unlike Bill Clinton’s embrace of the two-fer presidency–“elect me and you get my smart and capable wife too”–panelists made it clear there was only one No. 1.</P><P>Elizabeth Edwards, a lawyer, like Hillary, who often assumes the role of introducing her husband and articulating his positions, put it this way: “I try to be a good surrogate to try and convince people to go listen to him speak.”</P><P>Cindy McCain, wife of Republican John McCain: “I think the American people truly are electing both people, but from the spouse point of view, not in a leadership or decision-making aspect.”</P><P>So, expect at lot more Chelsea and a little less Bill from the Clinton campaign. If the first female president wants to be elected, she needs her own space.</P><P><I>Sandra Kobrin is a Los Angeles writer and columnist.</I></P> <P>Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at <a href=[email protected].

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