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Are Candidates' Spouses Fair Game?

Hannity & Colmes

HANNITY: It's not just about the '08 contenders. The press is now zeroing in on their spouses. But are all the wives getting a fair shake in the media?

Some recent headlines point to the fact that the press is playing favorites. On July 18, The New York Times ran this headline, "Mrs. Edwards Stepping Up Again", in response to the cancer-stricken Elizabeth recently becoming the voice of her husband's campaign.

And continuing the liberal lean is the Chicago Sun-Times, with its glowing piece on Mrs. Obama, titled, "Makeup's Too Much Work for Michelle".

But when it comes to Judi Giuliani, well, it seems the press has found its token villain. Vanity Fair slams Rudy's wife in a piece called "Giuliani's Princess Bride". The New York Times has also taken its shot at Judi in recent weeks.

So is this fair and balanced reporting? Joining us now, Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway. Also with us, FOX News contributor Kirsten Powers.

Well, we also have Fred Thompson's wife, Jeri Kehn, who has been referred to as the trophy wife of Fred Thompson. It's astounding to me the difference in the description. You see the discrepancies?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Of course. And most of these articles are coming from women, and some of them Pulitzer Prize- winning journalists. I think these are menopausal spinsters masquerading as journalists.

And it's a heck of a lot easier to dig into people's past and make fun of what they wear, the color of their hair, guess about their relationships, than it is to figure out the ins and outs of immigration reform, Social Security reform or the Iraq war. It's just easier to make fun of people.

I think this a political equivalent, Sean, of why America watches reality TV.

If I can just sit on my couch and laugh at you, my pathetic life will look a little bit better.

HANNITY: The attacks on Judi Kehn have been unbelievably unfair. Thompson -- Fred Thompson's wife have been unbelievably unfair. The attacks on Rudy Giuliani's wife have been mean-spirited. And yet, every time I read a story about Elizabeth Edwards or Barack Obama's wife, it's glowing.

It's flattering. It's -- I want to say if we're going to write about the wives, I think they've got be fair, No. 1. And I don't think they should be attacked, any of them.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Sean, the New York Times called her a trophy wife? I mean, I have a problem with that.

HANNITY: Called Fred Thompson's wife a trophy wife.

POWERS: I have a problem with that. Because I mean, she's a substantive person. She is attractive, but she's a very substantive person. And I think that that's unfair.

But I do remember Hillary Clinton not getting exactly the greatest coverage when she was running.

HANNITY: She puts herself front and center on health care and puts herself in the political arena.

This was during the campaign. She was getting pretty bad coverage. I think a lot of that is what the people said. I would separate Mrs. Giuliani. I think there's some things that are legitimate about her to bring up. Like not mentioning a marriage, for example, is a little strange.

CONWAY: The difference between Hillary Clinton and Jeri Thompson is very fundamental. Hillary Clinton proved that she wanted to be a public figure.

POWERS: She's running for president of the United States.

CONWAY: Where is the Jeri Thompson public policy speech? This is a decent, smart, beautiful woman in the suburbs, leading a quiet life, raising her two small children.

POWERS: We don't disagree on that. We don't disagree on that. Mrs. Giuliani is a separate -- is a separate situation.

HANNITY: Let me add another -- let me add another element here.

CONWAY: What does it have to do with her husband's position?

POWERS: Come on, Kellyanne. Come on.


COLMES: Kelly, aren't you the same Kellyanne Conway who made a number of comments about wives of candidates? You talked about Teresa Heinz Kerry in the last campaign.

CONWAY: She's nothing.

COLMES: You said, "We ought to see your tax returns" is she's going to speak out. You said all kinds of things. And you said about Hillary Clinton at one point, "If she can't even stand up to her cheating husband, then how can she stand up to North Korea or Iran?"


COLMES: Went after her. Aren't you the same Kellyanne Conway who made these catty comments about other women, some former spouses?

CONWAY: ... leader of the free world. She wants to be commander in chief of the country.

COLMES: During the years of impeachment, you came on the show many times. You never made a negative comments about Hillary Clinton. She was the wife of the president.

CONWAY: That would just be factually incorrect. Let's face it.

COLMES: And when you talked -- went on about Teresa Heinz Kerry, you weren't making catty comments about the wife of a candidate for president?

CONWAY: About her tax returns? We had ever right to...

COLMES: You said whatever Teresa Heinz Kerry, whatever her name is. Teresa Heinz Kerry, whatever her name is -- whatever her name in, dismissing her, making a dismissive comment about a woman who is the wife of...

CONWAY: This is delicious. I had even forgotten about this.

COLMES: There are some of the things you said. You have a double standard, because these are the things you said. You had a double standard, because these are the things you said about other wives when they were the spouses of people running for president.

CONWAY: This is unfair. Alan, this is unfair. Alan, if somebody is not injecting themselves into the public discourse.

Teresa Heinz Kerry at that point had been on the campaign trail, talking. Jeri Thompson's husband isn't even an announced candidate.

Teresa Heinz Kerry went to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. And I guess the teleprompter was unplugged, because she had that like...

HANNITY: She said, "shove it" and all that other stuff.

CONWAY: She did. And so she put herself into the spotlight.

COLMES: Yes, you're in the spotlight when you're the wife of a candidate. You're in the spotlight.

CONWAY: I want to know -- I want to know where are the -- let's talk about something. Where are the equivalent stories about congressmen or senators or the male candidates who have the paunchy beer bellies and the bad comb-overs?


CONWAY: Let's talk about the most famous political spouse in the country. Bill Clinton is treated like an ambassador...

COLMES: He was president of the United States.

CONWAY: ... and brings aid to refugees. And now he's treated as a statesman. And everybody else...


HANNITY: What are the chances of this happening? What are the chances if either Alan's wife or my life ran for president, we'd ever be trophy husbands?

HANNITY: Not going to happen.

COLMES: At least you're not being petty, Kelly.

CONWAY: Thank you for digging this up. I like this.

HANNITY: Good to see you both. Thank you for being with us.

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