With his single term in the Senate, John Edwards didn't have much impact on policy. But his effect on politicians lingers. In considering running for president, Michele Bachmann has read two books detailing the unraveling of the Edwards 2008 presidential campaign--and the Edwards family--as he tried to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter: Game Change and The Politician. "Game Change is a book that is very difficult to put down, at least I found it difficult to put down, and it gives a person pause," Bachmann told the MinnPost's Derek Wallbank. "But the other thing that it does, I think, is it informed me of what I don't want to do." Bachmann isn't the only potential 2012 contender who is hesitant to subject her family to the brutal scrutiny of a presidential race.
The main problem for Herman Cain, the pizza magnate, is like that of any candidate hovering around 1 percent in the polls--he needs more media attention. But Cain told the Daily Caller's Alex Pappas he's going to keep the glare off his wife: "My wife is one of the most unassuming, not-looking-for-the-limelight-people you’ve ever met," Cain said. "And I'm going to keep it that way. I'm not going to push her out there to try to do things she doesn't want to do. That's not her personality."
Several other spouses appear nervous about hitting the campaign trail. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' wife Cheri is reportedly his biggest hurdle to getting into the race, though why she might be reluctant is more obvious: she left her husband for another man for four years before returning. Before he dropped out, Haley Barbour's wife said the thought of him running "horrifies me." Sarah Palin says her main concern in considering a campaign is her family: "It's a monumental leap for a family to put themselves out there again in the limelight and be... ready for the scrutiny that ensues in a campaign."
Bachmann's devouring of Game Change--which Gawker's Jim Newell says is the book that has scared away the most potential candidates this cycle--and The Politician doesn't mean she has Edwards-esque scandals lurking in her closet (and it's worth pointing out that Sarah Palin hardly had the easiest time on the campaign trail either, and those and other stories could also be putting off would-be candidates: no one comes out of Game Change unscathed). As she explains, "I'm still a human being, and I still have the values that I stand for, and it tells me that the pursuit of a brass ring, the pursuit of an office, is not worth losing your health, losing your marriage, losing your integrity. That I'm not willing to do." But perhaps Edwards' story will act as a bit of a deterrent to for politicians tempted to have an affair. Compared to politicians who have to battle YouTube and blogs and social networking sites, Bill Clinton had it easy. Too bad Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't able to read the book a decade ago.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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