The reluctant spouse has long been a key storyline of modern day presidential campaigns, but perhaps no significant other in recent memory has been more publicity shy than Herman Cain's wife, Gloria.
Married for more than 43 years to the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, Gloria Cain has been largely absent from the campaign trail. She's been photographed with her husband at just one event during his Republican primary bid—at the formal kickoff of his 2012 campaign on May 21 in Atlanta.
Other political spouses are playing very public roles in their better halves' 2012 bids--among them, Anita Perry, Ann Romney and Marcus Bachmann. But Gloria Cain has not been spotted cheering her husband on at debates or at key GOP primary events, such as August's Iowa straw poll. And unlike his rivals, who often go out of their way to praise their spouses before voters, Cain has rarely mentioned his wife on the stump.
Gloria Cain's absence from the campaign arena is especially conspicuous now, with her husband forced to answer questions about past sexual harassment claims filed against him during the 1990s, when he was president of the National Restaurant Association. Cain, who is now leading the Republican presidential field according to recent polls, has said he was falsely accused, but the story has revived questions about why Cain's wife and his family have been so retiring over the course of his White House bid.
"You will meet my wife publicly in an exclusive interview that we are currently planning and anticipating, but you won't see my family out on the campaign trail on a day-to-day basis," Cain explained in an interview on Fox News Monday. "My wife represents that calm and tranquility that I look forward to seeing when I get home. She will be introduced in terms of some limited exposure, but it's not her style for her to be with me on every campaign stop because, number one, it's grueling, and I want her to continue to be the nucleus for that calm and tranquility that you want for your family."
(Update: Gloria Cain will appear on Fox News's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" on Friday night)
Cain has said from the beginning that his wife wouldn't be a "traditional" political spouse. Gloria Cain didn't regularly appear with her husband when he ran for Senate in Georgia in 2004, and ahead of his 2012 campaign, Cain said he didn't expect her to be any more visible.
"She's not going to do that," Cain told the Daily Caller's Alex Pappas in May.
Indeed, little is known about Cain's wife beyond general information released by his campaign. The only mention of his wife on his campaign website is a brief mention in the closing line of his official biography: "The paramount joys in his life are his wife, Gloria, his children and his grandchildren."
As Politico's Juana Summers noted in a profile of Cain's wife earlier this month, the 2012 candidate offered a few more details about their relationship in his recent memoir, 'This Is Herman Cain!" There Cain recounts meeting his wife when he was a sophomore at Morehouse College and she was a freshman at Morris Brown. They had a single date, and after that they lost touch with each other--but later reconnected about a year later and haven't been apart since.
"It was magic from that moment on and so I didn't go out with anyone else. Neither did Gloria. And we dated and dated and dated," Cain wrote, per Politico.
The two married in June 1968 and have two grown children, Vincent and Melanie, together with three grandchildren. Though she worked briefly as a teacher and a librarian, Gloria Cain has primarily been a homemaker and has never sought to be at her husband's side in the spotlight.
But Cain has also hinted her wife shies away from the public eye out of more than the simple desire to remain a private person. He told The Daily Caller that his wife has an "implanted heart device" that severely limits the physical stamina she would need to regularly campaign.
Going forward, however, the biggest question for the Cain campaign may not be whether Gloria Cain is willing to show up in key primary states or at the candidate's side at debates. Instead, it will be whether she'd be willing to publicly stand up for her husband in the light of the harassment allegations that could badly harm his 2012 aspirations.
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