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Could the Book 'Game Change' Stop John Thune From Running for President?

4 years ago
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Because of a popular book, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) -- long assumed to be a likely 2012 GOP primary contender -- might be having second thoughts about running for president.

As Politico recently reported, "His wife, Kimberley, read 'Game Change,' the blockbuster 2008 campaign book that revealed an array of candidate-spouse spats and depicted a brutal life on the campaign trail.

" 'It was not helpful,' he joked, calling the book a 'downer.' "

This was interesting to me, partly because just a couple days ago Mitt Romney told CNN's Piers Morgan that his wife wants him to run.

Some may mock the notion that spousal concern could discourage a presidential bid. But political campaigns are all-consuming. To work properly they require a family to buy into the idea. As such, it is not uncommon for personal considerations to deter political ambitions.

Some shrewd political operators have even been known to use a nervous spouse against a potential rival.

During the Reagan administration, for example, Lee Atwater, the Machiavellian operative who would later run George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, wanted Ed Rollins to take over Reagan's political shop. The only problem was that Reagan's powerful chief of staff, Jim Baker, preferred Haley Barbour for the job.

Atwater invited Barbour and his wife, Marsha, to visit him. Then, according to "Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater," Atwater

looked Barbour in the eye, seemingly oblivious to Marsha's presence. "It's hard. I don't know whether you'd like the job or not," he said in his best good ol' boy tone. "I'll tell you one thing about it, though -- you can get all the [girls] you want up here. You can sleep with a different woman every night!"
Rather than seeking the job, Barbour instead ran for U.S. Senate in Mississippi.

In Thune's case, of course, the concern is not about political "groupies," but rather the harsh and grueling campaign trail that may be of concern to Mrs. Thune.

(No word yet as to whether Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty may have mailed a copy of "Game Change" to Mrs. Thune.)

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