At this point in the presidential campaign (just SEVEN more months to go….), most Americans are tired of hearing about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the top two candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination. Perhaps the citizens feel like they have heard it all, but I beg to differ with them. Each man has a running mate, and I am not referring to a vice presidential candidate but his spouse–the woman behind the man. Just how much do we really know about the women who will have the candidate’s ear and with whom he will engage in pillow talk?
So far, the only real focus on the candidate’s wives has come from the candidate’s themselves exchanging barbs about how the other side has disrespected his wife. An organization not directly connected with Cruz published a (GASP!) nude photo of Melania Trump a/k/a Mrs. The Donald. If this publication was aimed at shock value, I think it missed the mark. Mrs. Trump was a model. If you are a model, you often pose for nude magazine shoots. As the commercial says, “It’s what you do.” No one disputes this occurred years back, but what does it have to do with The Donald being in the Oval Office?
Cruz supporters picking on Mrs. Trump did not go over well with her hubby. He lashed back by saying he’d “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. I am not sure exactly what The Donald had in mind, but an unflattering picture of Mrs. Cruz was subsequently posted. While I am sure Heidi has had better pictures taken of her, who hasn’t had a picture of themselves passed around that they wished could be deep sixed?
The Donald caught some heat for this post for being superficial and focusing on a woman’s physical attributes. To his credit, he did not do anything worse than post an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz. He did not did not question her mental stability, a fair inquiry given that public records reveal Mrs. Cruz suffered a bout of depression in the past and was found sitting by the side of a busy highway (not in a car) with her head in her hands by a policeman who deemed her to be a danger to herself. So she is a real human being who had a difficult transition from D.C. to the Lone Star State where she moved to support her husband. And? She clearly bounced back from this difficulty. But regardless of what negative thing Trump brought out about Mrs. Cruz, what does this have to do with Ted being in the Oval Office?
Forget spilling the beans on either candidate’s spouse. Let’s talk turkey instead. Why don’t we consider the facts about these women because whichever candidate is elected will have a spouse who will be expected to serve in a very high profile position, First Lady. Here are the basics on the Republican contenders for First Lady.
In corner #1 we have Heidi Nelson Cruz, age 43. She has been married to Ted since 2001. The couple has two daughters, born in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Mrs. Cruz received an MBA from Harvard Business School and is employed as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs. She met her husband while both were working on George Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Mrs. Cruz speaks Spanish, a language she picked up while working for J.P. Morgan on Latin American markets.
In corner #2 we have Melania Trump, age 45. She has been married to Donald since January 2005 having met him at a fashion week event in New York. The couple has a 9 year old son, Barron. Mrs. Trump was born in Yugoslavia (now called Slovenia) but became a U.S. citizen in 2006. She studied design and architecture in college. Melania worked as a model and now owns a successful jewelry business. Mrs. Trump is fluent in five languages: Slovenian; French; English; German and Serbo-Croatian. (Translation: She’s no dummy!)
Now that we know the basics, who would best fit the bill of First Lady? Let’s consider the First Lady’s role:
- The First Lady is highly visible and frequently photographed. Undeniably, Mrs. Trump, a former model, is likely to be the more photogenic and at ease around the cameras. And, thanks to The Donald’s post, we know that Mrs. Cruz may take an unflattering picture from time to time. Melania wins that round.
2. The First Lady often accompanies her husband on overseas trips. Who would be the more valuable asset in travel abroad? Mrs. Trump also wins round 2. She was born overseas, has lived and studied outside the U.S. and is fluent in several languages. Who needs to trust an interpreter with her on your arm? If the trip was to Mexico though, then Heidi would have the advantage since she speaks Spanish and is currently living just across the border in Texas, Mexico’s backyard neighbor.
3. The First Lady needs to be able to maneuver around the Washington scene and have connections. Heidi wins this round hands down. She previously worked for the Bush administration and is already familiar to those in Washington, D.C. from her time as a Senator’s wife. And as a Goldman Sachs investment banker, she is surely well connected in the financial world. Melania’s home base is New York City, and she is much more familiar with that metropolitan scene. New York (and her palatial penthouse) is likely where she’d rather be. (She might even get allergic to smelling political hay!) Melania may be socially connected, but that only gets you so far on Capitol Hill.
4. The First Lady needs to be a sounding board for her husband. Heidi is obviously on top of economic and financial issues as a result of her MBA and investment banking job; her experience and expertise could be a big asset for Ted. . Nevertheless, Melania is a savvy businesswoman who has lived in other countries and may be able to provide an outsider’s perspective on foreign affairs. Barbara Walters once remaked that people don’t expect Melania to be so smart because she is beautiful. Anyone who can hold her own with The Donald deserves some respect. (“Little Marco” had a tough time in that regard.) This round ends in a draw.
5. The First Lady is expected to entertain at the White House and at official functions. Melania has experience with society and business functions from being married to The Donald. How lavishly she would host such events from the White House might be a concern. If she redecorates the White House like she did the penthouse where she lives with The Donald, then the national debt might increase dramatically. We have not seen much of Melania on the campaign trail, so she might not cotton to so much public exposure (as opposed to personal exposure for nude photoshoots). While Heidi has been on the scene in D.C. and has experience as a Senator’s wife, it is one thing to attend a political event and quite another to host one on a huge scale. Again, this round ends in a draw.
Considering the facts, it seems that the two contenders for First Lady of a Republican president are fairly evenly matched. From all appearances, both women are greatly loved by their husbands who have no problem in fiercely defending them. Melania and Heidi are each an intelligent and accomplished woman in her own right. Melania has a good head on her shoulders; she is not simply arm candy for The Donald. Heidi, a Harvard educated banker with political world experience, is a success whether or not every picture of her is picture perfect. And, yes, she can take very flattering pictures.
In all seriousness, it behooves the voters to look at all the pertinent facts about any candidate. A candidate’s spouse is a huge consideration because the spouse is a special interest that will wield great influence over a candidate whether or not the spouse contributes anything at all to the campaign coffers. Cruz and Trump’s wives are intelligent, attractive women who are standing behind and supporting their spouse. Sure we need to know where Cruz and Trump stand on the issues, but I am one voter who feels that to be truly informed, voters also need to know about the women who stand behind these successful men.