Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Politicians in tears

When I went to bed last night Barack Obama was going to win the New Hampshire primary by 10 per cent. When I woke up he had been beaten by Hilary Clinton.

One factor in her victory, the pundits all say, was her almost appearing to cry when interviewed a couple of days before the contest. But tears do not always help American Presidential hopefuls.

In 1972 Senator Ed Muskie was the early favourite to win the Democratic nomination and he headed the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. However, his emotional response to newspaper allegations that his wife Jane had a drink problem was widely thought to have damaged his chances.

Muskie claimed that what people thought were tears were really melting snowflakes - the speech was made out of doors. But his campaign lost momentum and the Democratic candidacy went instead to George McGovern, who went on to be trounced by the Republican incumbent Richard Nixon.

The story goes that Harold Macmillan was asked what he would have said if his own wife's drinking had been used against him. He replied that he would have said: "That's nothing. You should have seen her mother."

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