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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Running Mates

Aired July 4, 2007 - 21:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Christine Romans. The AC 360 special, "Running Mates," will begin in a moment. But first, the headlines.
President Bush today strongly defended his conduct of the war in Iraq. The president telling troops in Martinsburg, West Virginia that victory will require more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a tough fight. But I wouldn't have asked those troops to go into harm's way if the fight was not essential to the security of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Insurgents in Iraq today killed two more of our troops, one in Baghdad, one in Nineveh province. The soldier killed in Nineveh died when his helicopter came down, 3,587 of our troops have been killed since this war began.

Law enforcement agencies today increased security across the country for the July 4th holiday. In Washington, visitors to the National Mall passed through 19 security checkpoints. Security was stepped up after the attempted car bomb attacks in Britain.

Those extra security precautions did nothing to dampen the July 4th festivities in Washington and communities across the nation. Millions of people watched fireworks displays including 3 million in New York.

Russia having its own celebration on this Fourth of July. Olympic officials today announced the Russian city of Sochi will be the host of the 2014 Winter Games. This is the first time the winter games will be held in Russia.

Those are the headlines, I'm Christine Romans. The AC 360 special, "Running Mates," begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and happy Fourth of July. This Independence Day comes in the middle of a wild presidential campaign race that is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and perhaps important in decades. Part of what makes this campaign different is the candidates' running mates, and we're not just talking about the one named Bill. He's certainly a star in his own right, at times overshadowing Senator Clinton. But other spouses are playing major roles as well. Michelle Obama says she is determined to keep her husband grounded. Personal challenges have turned Ann Romney and Elizabeth Edwards into role models. And the third wife of Rudy Giuliani, a tabloid favorite, made headlines again when she revealed he was her third husband.

You should get to know these spouses because in 2008 one will be in the White House. And as you'll hear tonight, a president's relationship with his or her spouse can have a major impact on us all.

We're going to begin with the wife of Fred Thompson, the former Senate staffer is more than two decades younger than the Republican candidate. And like her "Law & Order" husband, she has her own strong opinions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): We've heard a lot about Fred Thompson, but the woman behind one of the men who might be president has been a bit of a mystery.

MIKE ALLEN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO.COM: She's the whole package because she has star power of her own and yet she has this fantastic political mind, these amazing Washington contacts that have enabled them to pull together a campaign when they had very little staff and no budget.

COOPER: Jeri Kehn met then Tennessee Senator Thompson, 24 years her senior, in 1996. He had been divorced since 1984 and had a reputation for playing the field.

ALLEN: Senator Thompson really cracked up the House Republicans by telling them, when I was a single man, I chased a lot of women, and a lot of women chased me, and usually they caught me.

COOPER: He had been linked with several high-profile women, country singer Lorrie Morgan, and fundraiser Georgette Mosbacher among them. They have spoken kindly about their former beau. Thompson says his ex-wife would even campaign for him.

But when Kehn couldn't get him to commit, she famously told one D.C. gossip columnist that women "just won't leave him alone, I can't get up to get a cocktail at a party without coming back finding some girl sitting in my chair."

Though much press attention has focused on the 40-year-old's pretty face, Jeri Kehn comes with a pretty impressive resume. She was born in Naperville, Illinois, but made her career in Washington as an attorney, Senate staffer, and Republican strategist, she married Thompson in 2002. He had just quit politics after the death of his daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LAW & ORDER")

FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want his cup overflowing, Jack. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He continued on with another career as an actor, most recently on TV's "Law & Order." And Kehn stayed home to raise their two young children, a 4-year-old and a toddler. But some political pundits say to paint her as a stay-at-home mom doesn't tell the story.

ALLEN: A lot of the coverage has really missed the point about her. She has been portrayed as a trophy wife when, in fact, she's a trophy manager. Behind-the-scenes she has been getting this campaign going through phone and e-mail through the many months when many people thought that it was just a rumor.

COOPER: And they say the Thompsons could turn out to be a political dream team.

ALLEN: That little bit of Hollywood magic really helps Senator Thompson in his career in the Senate and has now helped provoke fascination with his candidacy. And she brought youth and attractiveness, but along with an amazing resume that any manager would be jealous of.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: There's one spouse who is hoping to enter the White House again, this time as first husband. Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton have a union that has been shaken more than once by infidelity. Their marriage has puzzled and fascinated people for years and continues to be a big topic of conversation on the campaign trail.

Here is CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We met and had our first date 36 years ago.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whoa. How about we speed this up a little? Bill Clinton, ex-president, his wife, wannabe next president. Their marriage complicated. But you knew that, right?

B. CLINTON: Buy one, get one free.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea.

B. CLINTON: I acknowledge causing pain in my marriage.

H. CLINTON: You know, I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.

B. CLINTON: I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear...

This task force will be chaired by the first lady.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

H. CLINTON: This vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband.

B. CLINTON: I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate.

H. CLINTON: Bill and I are closing one chapter of our lives and soon will be starting a new one.

TUCHMAN: A long, strange trip, and here we are.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: If you were president, Senator Clinton, what would your husband do?

H. CLINTON: This is a fascinating question.

TUCHMAN: She says Bill Clinton would be her goodwill ambassador to the world. Hey, he has already started.

B. CLINTON: Together we can save millions of lives.

TUCHMAN: He has raised millions of dollars to fight AIDS and millions more to help elect his wife, calling in chits, rallying Democrats, reminding them of a time when they still believed in a place called Hope.

AMY WALTER, EDITOR, THE HOTLINE: In contrast to where we are now, it seems much rosier.

TUCHMAN: Amy Walter edits The Hotline, an online political digest. Hillary Clinton, she says, has no greater campaign asset than her husband.

WALTER: African-American voters or labor or Latino voters, these ties that he has built over the years of his presidency certainly are still there for his wife.

TUCHMAN: But so is all the Clinton baggage, images burned into the national consciousness, that hug with the girl in the beret, that long, sad walk across the White House lawn, a cottage industry built around deconstructing their marriage.

WALTER: Bill and Hillary Clinton have been part of the American political landscape for so long now that most people in this country have already -- already have their own story in their heads about who they are.

TUCHMAN: In a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, more than 50 percent of Americans say they miss Bill Clinton, 41 percent say they don't.

H. CLINTON: How fortunate we are indeed. TUCHMAN: So Hillary Clinton walks a line, hoping voters will remember the good old days more than the bad ones. Her husband is, after all, larger than life. But it's her time now.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And joining us over the course of the hour are Kati Marton, author of "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages that Shaped Our Recent History"; and senior Newsweek" editor Barbara Kantrowitz, who recently profiled the candidate spouses for the magazine Tango. Appreciate both of you being with us.

Kati, overall, how important historically are candidates' wives to the candidate?

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR, "HIDDEN POWER": Well, it's not the decisive factor. It's one of those issues that helps or hurts at the margins. Where it becomes crucial, however, is once they're in the White House, because there the American presidency is -- does consist of two people...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And suddenly the focus is on the first lady as much as it is...

MARTON: Absolutely. And...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: More than it is certainly...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTON: Yes. But however, I think it's a legitimate issue for us to be talking about these partnerships because it does reveal something about the candidate. A, who he chose to be his life partner and, B, how he conducts that relationship speaks to the guy's character, or the woman's.

COOPER: Barbara, in this race, you think the only spouse who may really play a role in terms of getting somebody elected or not getting them elected is Bill Clinton.

BARBARA KANTROWITZ, SENIOR EDITOR, NEWSWEEK: I think he certainly is the most prominent spouse, and I think the way you feel about Hillary has a lot to do with the way you feel about their marriage. He's impossible to ignore. If you think it's great that they stuck together, then you probably like Hillary. If you think she just stuck together for the sake of more political power for herself, then you don't like her.

COOPER: I saw this recent poll, I think -- WNBC/Marist poll, found that 31 percent of voters think any extramarital affairs by the spouse should be knowledge. How much does a candidate's behavior impact their chances?

KANTROWITZ: I think that we've been led to believe that a candidate's fidelity or lack of it says something about their moral character and the moral leadership they will provide to the country. Whether that's true or not really remains to be seen. I mean, we have a president right now who has very low approval ratings, who by all accounts has been faithful in his marriage.

So would that be a good way to choose a leader? We'll know in 2008. On the other hand, when Bill Clinton was president, he -- we all know, he was not always faithful and yet his approval ratings were very high.

MARTON: It's very interesting that this time around it's the Republicans who have, shall we say, complicated marital histories, multi-divorces and...

COOPER: You're being very diplomatic.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTON: Trying. And the Democrats are all on their first spouses. The only Republican, ironically, who is on first spouse is the Mormon, Mitt and Ann Romney. But we have Giuliani with an extremely colorful marital history, as does his wife, three marriages. And Fred Thompson also. And John McCain.

And on the Democrats' side we have the Clintons, whatever you think of their marriage, they're still married. The Edwards still married, and so on. The Obamas, who also seem to have a very strong marriage.

COOPER: Yes. And a very public relationship that we're going to talk about a little bit later on. Barbara, we just saw this piece about Fred Thompson's wife. We really don't know that much about her at this point.

KANTROWITZ: Yes. I think she's really an interesting addition to the race. She's very attractive. She's, I think, more than 25 years younger than he is. She has been referred to as the trophy wife. And I think the way people react to her is going to really affect his candidacy.

COOPER: Do you think -- I mean, clearly there will be a significant focus on her as he emerges as a candidate.

KANTROWITZ: Absolutely. And, you know, it's easy to overlook the fact that she's actually quite an accomplished professional. I think people may focus on her appearance. But I -- when he first announced, there was a picture of her in The New York Post, and I took it around to my colleagues at Newsweek, and I said, is she a plus or a minus? And it was about 50-50 in my office.

COOPER: Just on visual?

KANTROWITZ: Just on visual. It was all about the cleavage. COOPER: We'll continue our conversation with Kati and Barbara throughout the hour. Next on "Running Mates," speaking out and standing tall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: Let me tell you a little bit about Michelle Obama. I'm a South Sider of Chicago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The spouses who shape the candidates' campaigns.

Also, polarizing partners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to tell you all a little bit about how Rudy and I came to be (INAUDIBLE) together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: From bitter breakups to battling addiction and adultery. The spouses who make the headlines and the gossip pages, that is ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. OBAMA: Probably the biggest thing I can give you right now is a better understanding into who Barack is as a candidate by giving you a better sense of who I am and who we are and how we operate as a family.

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I've never been involved in strategy or campaign planning or anything like that. We're back. This is a new campaign. My husband is doing a great job and we look forward to winning this race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Welcome back to this 360 special, "Running Mates." The spouses of the candidates all lead very different lives, many with roles far from traditional. Michelle Obama supervised her husband in a Chicago law firm. John McCain's wife overcame a drug dependency. And Judith Giuliani was married three times. With me again are author Kati Marton and senior Newsweek editor Barbara Kantrowitz.

Barbara, how are the spouses in this election race different than in previous years?

KANTROWITZ: Well, first of all, almost all of them have had professional lives, which is unusual. And they also are staking out positions on the issues, in some cases, slightly different from their husbands, which is also a really radical change. And I think they're emerging as political forces on their own.

COOPER: We saw Elizabeth Edwards making a statement in support of gays and lesbians, whether she believes it or not it was in counterpoint or perhaps because of statements her husband had made saying he was uncomfortable.

KANTROWITZ: Right. And I think that the spouse now gives the candidate another opportunity to lure in people that in some way he or she may have alienated. And I think it's really interesting. And it's going to be interesting to watch it evolve.

COOPER: So in some cases candidates' spouses are used -- whether accurately or not accurately, are used to kind of soften or alter the image or enlarge the image of the...

MARTON: Yes, humanize. However, the spouse -- humanize the candidate but the spouse, and this is where it's important that the two of them in the relationship have had a long life together and have worked out their personal issues and have seen each other through political campaigns.

COOPER: So how -- Barbara, how carefully is all of this orchestrated?

KANTROWITZ: I think it's unfortunate but we're at an age where everything about a campaign is carefully constructed. Every act, every image, what they wear, everything.

COOPER: So have meetings about what the wife should wear, what the spouse should say?

KANTROWITZ: Absolutely. And I think that's -- ironically that makes us want to know the spouses even more because we're looking for some hint of authenticity, some hint of who they really are, and we're hoping we'll get that from just watching them together, watching the spouse. I don't know if we will, but we're hopeful.

COOPER: Ann Romney, does she fit the more traditional mold?

KANTROWITZ: Well, you know, it's kind of complicated. I, frankly, am in awe of the fact that she raised five children. I only have two and I barely made it. So I think that's really remarkable. She has a very long and by all accounts happy marriage. That's an accomplishment. And I think lately she has kind of changed her image because she found out she had multiple sclerosis and she's an activist for that disease. And that's somewhat traditional but also she's open about her own problems.

COOPER: And Michelle Obama is certainly unlike past running mates that we've seen.

KANTROWITZ: And I think a lot of especially younger women really identify with her because she's incredibly accomplished. She graduated from Princeton, Harvard Law School, she had a very high- powered career and now has had to scale back not only because of her children but because of her husband. And there are a lot of women with that kind of background who say, I really relate to her and I really want to see how she's going to manage and she speaks for me.

COOPER: We'll talk more with Kati and Barbara coming up. You know, some running mates choose to live private lives in the public spotlight. That's what Michelle Obama is at least trying to do. A Harvard-trained lawyer and a mother of two from the South Side of Chicago, she may not be accustomed to all the attention, but Michelle Obama is learning to get used to it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

M. OBAMA: My husband, the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

COOPER (voice-over): She's the woman behind the juggernaut that is Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. His wife, Michelle. But she is still a bit of a political mystery. Is she the reluctant spouse of a superstar candidate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready to be first lady?

M. OBAMA: No comment.

COOPER: Or a political savvy mate working to find that just-the- right-tone to get her husband to the White House?

CHRISTI PARSONS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I think both things are true. I think in the beginning she -- there are some signs that maybe she wasn't wholly given over to the idea of politics. She objected to the fact that she was spending so much time alone without him and without help raising the family. I think she sometimes views his politics as sometimes that sort of intrudes on something that's very important to her, on the family life.

COOPER: Michelle Robinson Obama is a success story in her own right, born and raised on Chicago's tough South Side, she graduated cum laude from Princeton, then Harvard Law School, and joined a prestigious Chicago law firm. That's where she met her future husband. He was a new summer associate at the firm. She was his adviser.

PARSONS: She was a little unsure about the fact -- about them working together. One of her friends told me that she thought it would be tacky for the two -- two of the only African-American lawyers working at the firm to be dating.

COOPER: The Obamas still live in Chicago, both took the path into public service, Michelle worked as an assistant to Mayor Richard Daley and is now vice president of community affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. And she is the mother of two daughters: Malia, who is 8 and Natasha, 5. When the power couple appeared on "Oprah" in October, it was already clear that Barack Obama is a political star, but it was also clear that his wife knows how to keep him grounded.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just introduced this bill on nonproliferation, nuclear weapons that are out there, loose nukes in former Soviet territories. I was working with my Republican colleague, Dick Lugar, to introduce this bill. I was excited about it. I called Michelle, saying, look, this is going to be a terrific piece of legislation. She says, we have ants.

(LAUGHTER)

B. OBAMA: I said, ants? She said, yes. We have ants and I need ant traps. We have ants in the bathroom and the kitchen so on your way home can you pick up some ant traps, please?

M. OBAMA: We had ants.

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": We had ants.

B. OBAMA: But I'm thinking, you know, is John McCain stopping by Walgreen's to grab ant traps on the way home?

(LAUGHTER)

WINFREY: Yes, yes.

M. OBAMA: If he's not, he should be.

COOPER: Some who have met her describe her as determined, tireless, fearless, up at 4:30 every morning, in bed by 8:30 at night and she is clearly onboard for her husband's campaign.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now Michelle Obama is emerging from the shadows on the campaign trail, so is the wife of Mitt Romney, Ann. They first met when they were in grade school. Ann Romney caused controversy by converting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by donating to Planned Parenthood. She has also become a champion in her battle with a debilitating disease.

Here's John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With the fine people of Michigan in front of me and with my sweetheart at my side, I declare my intention to run for president of the United States.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He calls her his sweetheart. But those who follow Romney's career and campaign say Ann Romney is a political partner and asset.

SCOTT HELMAN, BOSTON GLOBE REPORTER: It's rare to see him at a big public event without her at his side. So she is clearly -- she is a major part of the campaign.

KING: Their romance began 40 years ago when they were high school sweethearts. Mitt Romney was a devout Mormon, Ann wasn't, but she converted to Mormonism while her then fiancee was doing his missionary work in France and she's adamant that their faith should never have become a political issue.

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I'm a little bit more defensive I think than Mitt might be. And I just get like, come on, he's a great guy. Let's just get past this.

KING: In 1998, Ann received some devastating news. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

A. ROMNEY: When I was first diagnosed, and I'm not sure if it was the MS speaking or just the diagnosis speaking, I think more the diagnosis, I was extremely depressed and he really helped me get over that.

KING: Ann says facing that potentially debilitating disease hasn't altered her belief that creating new stem cell lines for research is wrong.

A. ROMNEY: If there's a cure for the disease, I hope that it comes through the alternative methods of stem cell research, not creating new life to experiment on that new life.

KING: That matches her husband's agenda. But other actions by Mrs. Romney are a source of campaign controversy. In 1994, for example, she donated money to the decidedly pro-choice Planned Parenthood, something cited now by social conservatives who are suspicious of candidate Romney's conservative conversion on abortion and other issues.

HELMAN: Most of the world ought to know that Mitt Romney has long been a supporter of abortion rights and only a few years ago changed to a -- what he calls a firmly pro-life position.

KING: Before the campaign, Ann Romney spent much of her time working for charities, and in her one and only term as first lady of Massachusetts she supported her husband's faith-based initiatives. She openly admits she doesn't always agree with her husband's politics though she hasn't said much about those disagreements.

The 56-year-old grandmother of 10 prefers to help her husband go after the Democrats.

A. ROMNEY: This is a great country with great people. It has been, to me, just an extraordinary experience. I've loved it. I love getting out and meeting the people. I loved that about being first lady of Massachusetts as well. To see all the different communities, what people are dealing with, what their lives are like, what we can do to make their lives better. And I have such confidence in my husband that he would make an outstanding president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next on our special edition, "Running Mates," the schoolteacher who captured John McCain's heart. From their long distance marriage to her own personal struggle with addiction.

Also tonight, the most controversial of the candidate's wives, Judith Giuliani. She has been tabloid fodder since she burst onto the scene and she continues to stir controversy. Can voters get past the gossip?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our 360 special "Running Mates." Before the break, we showed you how Ann Romney, the wife of candidate Mitt Romney, has become outspoken with her fight against multiple sclerosis. Other spouses have also raised public awareness with their personal challenges. Such is the case with Cindy McCain. She has been married to John McCain since 1980 and hidden addiction to painkillers that started just a few years later.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My wife Cindy was a teacher of special education before I took her out of an honest line of work.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So she was way back in 1979, a beautiful former cheerleader, smitten by a dashing war hero.

NANCY COLLINS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, HARPER'S BAZAAR: Cindy met John McCain at a cocktail party in Hawaii. She was on vacation with her parents.

JOHNS: McCain's first marriage was crumbling. He found himself captivated by the young Cindy Hensley, nearly 20 years his junior. Their courtship was swift, just a year later, he was divorced and they were married.

For a short time McCain went to work for Cindy's father, who owned one of the biggest beer distributors in the country. The job didn't take. Politics beckoned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain for Congress. New leadership for Arizona.

JOHNS: And in 1982, with financial support from his wife's family, McCain won a seat in Congress. He moved to Washington, but Cindy stayed in Arizona, raising their children.

Nancy Collins profiled the senator's wife for "Harper's Bazaar" and describes a challenging long-distance political marriage.

NANCY COLLINS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": During the week she had these three kids she had, and she said by Thursday when he would come home, she'd kind of be on the ceiling. And he'd walk in the door and calm everything down.

Of course, I said I don't know how you put up with this, because that's a lot of responsibility. JOHNS: Responsibility. Nothing new for Cindy McCain. She launched a humanitarian charity, embarking on more than 50 overseas relief missions.

During a 1991 trip to Bangladesh, Cindy arranged for a severely disfigured baby girl to get medical treatment in the United States. Accompanying the child to America, she made a big snap decision.

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: And I was literally flying from Bangkok to L.A., and I thought, you know, I don't think I want her to go to any other home except for mine.

And I stepped off the plane in Phoenix, and John took a look at her and he said, "Well, where is she going?" He kind of whispered it in my ear.

And I said, "Well, I thought she'd go to 7110 North Central Avenue." I said, "Let me introduce you to your new daughter." That is the test of the strength in a marriage, let me tell you.

JOHNS: But around that same time Cindy was also facing a very private test of her own, drug addiction.

COLLINS: She had a very bad car accident, hurt her back, started taking painkillers and got hooked. In 1993 her mother walked in one day and said, "There's something wrong with you." And she said, "Yes, there is." She broke down, and she never took another pill after that.

JOHNS: Cindy eventually revealed her secret to her husband and to the world, even admitting to stealing pills from her own charity.

C. MCCAIN: Mr. Chairman, my name is Cindy McCain, and I am the chairman of the Arizona delegation.

JOHNS: When her husband burst onto the presidential stage in 2000, Cindy McCain was at his side, pounding the campaign trail, riding the Straight Talk Express.

Now she's campaigning again and speaking out, for example, about the stroke she suffered in 2004.

C. MCCAIN: I was just sitting at lunch and no pain. I had no warning. I just simply all of a sudden couldn't talk.

JOHNS: Heading into another grueling election, another personal challenge, Jimmy McCain, the McCains' youngest son and a Marine, has been deployed to Iraq.

C. MCCAIN: We've joined the ranks of millions of other parents in the United States that will wait, worry and pray about their children.

JOHNS: Yet another call to duty for the senator's wife.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Here in New York the tabloids have had a field day with Rudy Giuliani's personal life. Many of the headlines have been devoted to his current wife, Judith.

She's a registered nurse who helped nurse her husband through prostate cancer, but she also has a few skeletons of her own in the closet, including a recently revealed secret marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Her husband credits her with helping him get through his hardest times: 9/11, prostate cancer. But Judith Giuliani is arguably the most controversial of the presidential candidates' wives.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's a -- she's a good friend, a very good friend.

COOPER: That was May of 2000, when the mayor was still married to TV personality Donna Hanover. A few days later, he announced his marriage to Hanover was over, and the gossip began in earnest.

LLOYD GROVE, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: It was a complete surprise, I think, to Donna Hanover when he started taking up with then Judith Nathan.

COOPER: Lloyd Grove covered the city hall scandal and just wrote a profile of Judith Giuliani for "New York" magazine.

GROVE: Rudy kind of announced it on television, and then it was a huge story in the tabloids and a huge soap opera in New York and beyond.

COOPER: Even "People" magazine ran a cover story on the mayor's marital woes. And it wouldn't be the last time Judith Giuliani, then Judith Nathan, would be fodder for the tabloids, not the welcome a small town girl might want.

She was born Judith Stish in a Pennsylvania mining town in 1954. She worked as a nurse and married a medical supply salesman, a marriage she never mentioned publicly.

GROVE: It wasn't that she claimed that she'd only been married once before, but she sort of let it sort of stay uncorrected. So she just sort of let people assume that that was the case, and then it just reared up eventually.

COOPER: Five days after her divorce, she married Bruce Nathan, a wealthy businessman, and they adopted a daughter. That marriage ended in 1992.

JUDITH GIULIANI, RUDY GIULIANI'S WIFE: I wanted to tell you all a little bit about how Rudy and I came to be our team together. COOPER: This March, Judith Giuliani caused another controversy when she introduced her husband at a Manhattan fundraiser with anecdotes about when they first met, without mentioning that the mayor was married at the time.

And then another revelation, that Rudy's two children, said to be estranged from their father, wouldn't hit the campaign trail for their dad. His son Andrew was quoted as saying he has a little problem with his stepmother. Not the best news for a candidate.

GROVE: For a presidential candidate to be estranged from his children is problematic and very troublesome. And Republican consultants I've talked to about this said that, you know, if Rudy is serious about wanting the Republican nomination, he's got to repair those relationships with his kids.

J. GIULIANI: I have just recently begun -- I think they call it in the political world, being rolled out.

COOPER: Giuliani says he relies on her completely, even hiring her as a campaign consultant. And in her first national television interview with Barbara Walters on "20/20" in March, Judith Giuliani held hands with her husband, and the two did their best to set the record straight on the hidden husband.

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST, "20/20": So it wasn't that you were keeping it hidden, it's that nobody brought it up?

J. GIULIANI: That's correct.

COOPER: On being the other woman.

WALTERS: Did it bother you that the mayor was married?

J. GIULIANI: It -- it was a rocky road, absolutely.

COOPER: On problems with the kids.

R. GIULIANI: She's done everything she can. She loves all the children.

COOPER: And on her husband's candidacy.

J. GIULIANI: Rudy would be the best president of the United States.

COOPER: We'll have to wait to see if the voters can set aside the gossip and give her husband their votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, for the candidate, a polarizing spouse can destroy the chances of winning the White House. Consider Teresa Heinz. Some believe the wife of John Kerry did more harm than good during his presidential bid in 2004. Others, of course, found her charming and appealing. With me again are author Kati Marton and senior "Newsweek" editor Barbara Kantrowitz.

Barbara, Judith Nathan. You think -- or Giuliani now -- she is a polarizing figure, you believe?

BARBARA KANTROWITZ, EDITOR, "NEWSWEEK": I think that, as the campaign goes on, she'll be hard for much of the country to take.

COOPER: Really?

KANTROWITZ: I think so. I mean, they've been -- each of them has been married three times; and I think we're all used to one divorce, but multiple divorces is still a little new to most of America.

I -- and the way they present themselves, as though they have no -- no history, as though this was the only marriage. I think that's -- you know, kind of rubs people the wrong way.

COOPER: He has also said, I believe, that she plays an important role in his campaign, that she's a close adviser. She was on his staff.

KANTROWITZ: Yes. Right, and that, you know, she can sit in on cabinet meetings? You know, really, that's -- that's kind of not what people want to hear right now.

They want to know that the candidate has a partner who supports him, who provides him good counsel. They don't need a candidate (sic) who's going to advise him on matters of state.

COOPER: Is there ever -- or has there ever been a time when having a polarizing spouse can be a good thing?

KATI MARTON, AUTHOR: Well, I would say that Nancy Reagan was a polarizing spouse at the outset, because she seemed to be his lightning rod. She was -- she tried to be Jackie Kennedy. She tried to turn the White House into...

COOPER: There was a controversy over the dresses...

MARTON: China and the dresses, the couture. And then she, too, repositioned herself.

COOPER: You had talked before about the importance of settled relationship. I mean, this was a couple that, you know, clearly were still in love, and yet were very comfortable -- I mean, they fitted one to another.

MARTON: But he was a genius politician so he, you know, the harm that a partner could do to a man who was as brilliant in his role as Ronald Reagan was, was minimal. But in fact, the role she played in the White House was enormous, far exceeding, I would say, both the role Hillary played in the Clinton White House.

COOPER: Really?

MARTON: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I mean, she was -- she didn't need an office in the West Wing to know exactly what was going on.

COOPER: And it wasn't her agenda; it was his. It was protecting him.

MARTON: Exactly, exactly.

COOPER: It was protecting the president.

MARTON: Yes, yes. Once a spouse gives the impression of having a separate agenda, and I think Terry -- Teresa Heinz Kerry gave that impression, that her agenda was -- was more or equally as important to her husband's. And that's -- that's a nonstarter.

But, no, Nancy had one agenda, and that was Ronnie. She played a great role for that.

KANTROWITZ: I think it's important for the spouse to understand that we're not voting for the spouse. We're voting for the candidate. You're the supporting player. You're not the lead. And any candidate's wife who oversteps that boundary is going to cause trouble.

COOPER: Ahead on this special, "Running Mates", fighting for her life.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: This is what happened to every cancer survivor.

COOPER: And defending her husband.

E. EDWARDS: We object to the policies of this administration.

COOPER: The two missions of Elizabeth Edwards, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. EDWARDS: I feel fine. I have lots of energy, and actually having the campaign and the children to focus on makes it a lot easier. I don't sit around and focus on cancer, which is great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic candidate John Edwards.

No matter what your impression is of her husband, you have to admire her courage. The author and attorney is her husband's No. 1 asset and chief defender, who's not afraid to share her battle with breast cancer with the world.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

E. EDWARDS: Thank you all very much for being here. We are unbelievably glad to be back in Iowa.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the candidate, but she's the star. Not a polished and perfect political wife, not a policy partner either.

E. EDWARDS: I'm really going to talk only for a second, because I do feel a drop or two.

FOREMAN: A real woman with real problems, Elizabeth Edwards has been tested. You can feel her pain and her strength.

E. EDWARDS: At the same time we object to the policies of this administration.

FOREMAN: Her battles are well known. Breast cancer, discovered just days before the 2004 election. Taking a private struggle public, Elizabeth put a face on a disease that strikes millions, and suddenly, she was transformed from a candidate's wife into a national figure in her own right.

E. EDWARDS: I can't turn on the television without seeing me or open a newspaper without seeing me, and honestly I'm sick to death of me.

FOREMAN: For a while it even looked like she had beaten cancer.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is actually the place 30 years ago this summer where we had our wedding reception.

FOREMAN: Back then they were law school sweethearts with their whole lives ahead of them. But on this day in March, the future seemed less certain for John and Elizabeth Edwards.

J. EDWARDS: The bottom line is her cancer is back.

FOREMAN: Elizabeth was blunt. She was going through something millions of Americans experience, too.

E. EDWARDS: This is what happens to every cancer survivor, knowing that that pain they feel in their side, the ache they feel some place could be the sign of something worse.

FOREMAN: Her husband pledged to keep his campaign going, and she vowed to stay in the fight with him.

Not everyone understood. The Edwards have two small children. Some wondered whether the campaign should close up shop, whether Elizabeth should just stay home.

She fired back on "60 Minutes".

E. EDWARDS: If I had given up everything that my life was about, first of all, I would let cancer win before it needed to, you know. Maybe eventually it will win, but I've let it win before it need to, and I just basically start dying. I don't want to do that. I want to live.

FOREMAN: And so she's once again on the stump with her own fans, talking up her husband.

E. EDWARDS: My only request of you is you quiz the business out of him, because he's got actual answers for you.

FOREMAN: And sharing her personal experiences, cancer, the death of her son Wade in a 1996 car accident.

E. EDWARDS: I've sometimes talked about the strange gift that comes with the awful tragedy of losing a child. I'd already been through the worst, I believe. We all had. And I had the gift of knowing that nothing will ever be as bad as that. The worst day of my life had already come.

FOREMAN: The best days, she says, could well be ahead of her.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Both Elizabeth Edwards and Ann Romney are battling diseases that could get worse. When the spouse of a candidate is battling an illness, what does that mean for the campaign and for the election?

Joining me to discuss that are author Kati Marton and senior "Newsweek" editor, Barbara Kantrowitz.

Barbara, what about that? I mean, have we seen this before? Do we know -- are we in unchartered waters here?

KANTROWITZ: Well, what I think is especially interesting in this campaign is that health care is such an important national issue. And I think it brings special resonance when you have candidates' spouses who really understand at the most -- at the deepest level what it means to have a long-term disease that may eventually kill you.

And I think when they talk about issues like health care, both Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Romney command attention for that reason.

It does certainly, you know, elicit a certain amount of sympathy that we might not have had earlier. But there's also admiration for people who are willing to go out in public to fight for what they believe in when, really, it might be easier and better for their health if they just stayed home and relaxed.

COOPER: Was it Betty Ford who changed the perception of this?

MARTON: Betty Ford, yes. Yes. Betty Ford, the truth-sayer, she's one of my favorites. She really is.

COOPER: Yes. She was such a remarkable lady.

KANTROWITZ: Truly was. Yes.

MARTON: Yes. I think we all agree that she -- she brought a breath of fresh air into the White House after -- after those stilted Nixonian years. Pat and Richard Nixon were -- you know, never revealed anything about themselves.

You know, the Fords just -- just flung over the White House window. And she talked about her children's marijuana use, the fact that she was pro-choice, her own addiction.

KANTROWITZ: She would be the role model. If I were a candidate's wife, I'd say, you know, "I hope that in 30 years people will think of me the way they think of Betty Ford."

MARTON: And she -- the way her husband, President Ford, gave her the freedom to say these things, which, by the way, the -- not everybody in the Republican Party was applauding. But he never stepped on her toes. He, you know, let Betty be Betty.

COOPER: We'll have more from Barbara Kantrowitz and Kati Marton after the break, including talking about which spouses would have the most influence in the White House and what roles they'd play.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

Tonight, we've been looking at the race within the presidential race, the spouses of the candidates, who they are, where they stand, which ones could hurt their partners in the election, which ones could help.

Let's get some final words, some final thoughts from our guests, author Kati Marton and senior "Newsweek" editor Barbara Kantrowitz.

Barbara, as first spouse, which do you think, of all the people we've been discussing tonight, will have the greatest impact on the role of president?

KANTROWITZ: Well, I think a lot of people feel that if Elizabeth Edwards, if her husband is elected, she has the most potential to really carve out her own role. She's a very independent person.

She's had a lot of things happen to her in her life: the death of her son, her battles with cancer, which has given her a kind of wisdom. And they clearly have a passionate marriage that I think people can relate to. I think she would make a really interesting first lady.

COOPER: Traditionally we've been talking about how first ladies have been used to humanize the candidate.

KANTROWITZ: Yes.

COOPER: In some ways the same can be said for former President Clinton...

KANTROWITZ: Yes.

COOPER: ... that he's being used to try to humanize Senator Clinton.

KANTROWITZ: I think the challenge for him is going to be, to be that supporting player. It's really hard when you've been president for eight years -- by many accounts a very successful presidency -- to suddenly be in second place.

And that would be really hard. If I were Bill Clinton I would be struggling with that.

COOPER: The running mates we see now, is this basically the template for the running mates of the future? I mean, where does the trend go? More and more...

KANTROWITZ: I think you're going to see more and more equal partnerships. The spouses will be equally educated, equally accomplished, and they'll bring not only the sort of emotional support but professional counsel, as well.

MARTON: I think it's a reflection of the country at large, that we have -- I mean, since women are now in the workforce, not you know, just entertaining for their husband's clients, I think that the field, really with the notable exception of Mrs. Giuliani, are serious professional women who one could easily see as candidates themselves.

Michelle Obama, obviously Bill Clinton, obviously Ann Romney, Elizabeth Edwards, these are substantive people who really will -- but their big role will -- will happen in the White House. This is all...

COOPER: In ways both public and private.

MARTON: Absolutely. But their biggest role will be private.

COOPER: A really fascinating discussion.

Kati Marton, author of "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History", thanks so much.

And senior "Newsweek" editor Barbara Kantrowitz, who recently profiled the candidates' spouses for the magazine "Tango", thanks for being with us. Really interesting.

MARTON: Thank you.

COOPER: Between now and election day, we're going to be bringing you the best and most complete coverage of the presidential race for '08. Our report on the spouses this evening is just part of that. We'll have much more in the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks for watching. I'm Anderson Cooper.

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