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troubleinharlem's avatar

How much does a person's personal life matter when running for political office? Would it change your vote if it was a negative situation?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7981points) March 10th, 2011

Okay, I was watching The View this morning, and they were talking about how personal lives should or should not be factors in running for president. They mentioned Newt Gingrich, who said this:

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate,” he said during an interview with CBN..

He’s not running for president at this time, but I was thinking. Would his personal life have anything to do with your vote? I mean, with his three marriages, etc.

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25 Answers

12Oaks's avatar

Possibly. Depends on what it is and when it happened and do they still do that etc. Really not an easy yes or no here.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@12Oaks : Okay, what about Newt and his three marriages?

Sunny2's avatar

Yes,it would affect my vote. Your private life speaks to your character. In Mr. Gingrich’s case, the picture I have is of a man who would desert his wife while she has cancer. Not my kind of person, thank you. He’s intelligent, yes, but has a huge character flaw, in my mind.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes, it would definitely be consideration for me. I happen to always look into what type of a person I am voting for. If people did this regularly, we wouldn’t have so many corrupt judges behind benches in my locale.

12Oaks's avatar

@troubleinharlem Being aware of some of his hypocrisy when it comes to this issue, I wouldn’t not vote for him, or anybody else, because they were married three times.

YoBob's avatar

I believe that character matters and how one conducts one’s personal life is a pretty good indicator of one’s character.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I don’t like cheaters. People who will cheat on a relationship will cheat the American people.

Jaxk's avatar

Interesting responses. I wonder how many that said it matters, voted for or still like Clinton. I suspect it has a lot to do with your political ideology rather than just the personal life issues. We tend to use these issues to reinforce our dislike rather than to actually base our decision on it. People like Kennedy had a dubious record on this but we loved him anyway. If you want a squeaky clean candidate, you get people like Gerald Ford. A nice guy but hardly a shaker and a mover.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Well @Jaxk, I would compare Newt to John Edwards…not Clinton. Edwards didn’t make it to the White House, now did he?!

Jaxk's avatar


Nor did he have sex in the Oval Office.

sinscriven's avatar

It depends.

Does Clinton getting a blowjob affect his ability to be president? Not really.

Does Gingrich pushing for discriminatory civil-rights legislation against homosexuals for the sake of pure and moral hetero relationships while he’s cheating make me think he’s a total hypocritical asshat? Absofrigginlutely. He can cheat on his wives all he wants, but I’d be vehemently against the idea that he knows more about how families should be run than i do, and be in a power to exercise those on the people.

Jaxk's avatar


It sounds like my point exactly. Your ideological differences are very apparent. Any reference to his personal life merely reinforce them rather than create them. If Gingrich had only been married once and was otherwise squeaky clean would you think better of him or would you still be railing against his ideology? I think the latter.

sinscriven's avatar

@Jaxk : I’d still be heavily against his political ideology, primarily because I’m socially liberal. It just irks me that he wants to ride in on a white horse when he clearly lacks integrity.

Gingrich is fancying himself as a moral crusader, so it would be natural to evaluate him on his morals. Especially since this is a platform issue for him.

If he wasn’t running on a platform heavy with social conservatism, then I could care less about his personal life.

LostInParadise's avatar

@sinscriven has it right about the hypocrisy factor. Clinton never went around preaching the sanctity of marriage. Furthermore, Gingrich is truly an incompletely evolved slimeball. He asked his wife for a divorce while she was in the hospital with cancer. Good grief! Then to make it even better, he left the wife he cheated with for a third wife. Newt the newt! So appropriate. A good likeness” , don’t you think?

seazen's avatar

Great Q.

Like in music and other important things to me; it does matter. If not for me, directly, then as a role model for my children and society. Everyone and everything is connected, and there’s karma.

I find it hard to listen to MJ’s music, I find it impossible to vote for someone I dislike, distrust or even find distasteful.

Zaku's avatar

It should only matter for people who make it an issue, and therefore make themselves into lying hypocritical asses or variations thereof, but that’s my opinion as someone who detests the current bunch that are out there.

In general, I think it shouldn’t matter. The French were laughing at the USA when Gary Hart went from the best presidential candidate to withdrawing candidacy based on an affair being publicized. “What? Only one affair?”

Cruiser's avatar

Our last 3 Presidents have dabbled in illegal drugs and still got elected. You need to be a pretty big scumbag nowadays to not get into office. Pretty seedy bunch as it is!

seazen's avatar

Neither the affairs nor the drugs were on my mind when I posted it…

I was thinking more along the lines of child molestation, embezelment and the like…

Jaxk's avatar


All things that would land you in jail. Prison stripes don’t bode well for a presidential run.

seazen's avatar

But they make you look slimmer. The vertical stripes, i.e.

Nullo's avatar

The brain that makes decisions in the day-to-day is the same brain that the candidate intends to put behind the desk and use to work out policy. Its track record is vitally important.
That said, the essay that you wrote in high school (and that your opponent’s goons somehow found) ought not to be held against you.

12Oaks's avatar

I also always try to ask myself “If the other party candidate did a same or similiar thing, would I feel the same way about it?” without over the top rationalization. This is a two way street. It goes for agreement and disagreement. If you like what one candidate stands for, would you also support it if the opposing candidate were the one making the offer. Fair is fair, and good ideas as well as bed come from both sides.

seazen's avatar

we have a few politicians in jail – a president on the way for rape.

finance minister for emb.,

a former pm too for all kinds of stuff

the writ. was on the wall if u ask me

i am one-handed rite now sorry for the txtspk

seazen's avatar

i so agree with @Nullo

Zaku's avatar

Having just posted what I posted above, then hearing you meant child molestation and embezzlement, which are crimes (one serious and requiring major psychiatric help, and the other being something I don’t want my politicians doing), then those would affect my vote, but I also would not call those “personal life matters”. I would call them public-record crimes and serious mental conditions. So even though I usually vote for the best environmental candidate, those things would impact even my opinion of what they could be relied upon to do for the environment.

Oh, and as for Newt, he is clearly someone I would never want in office, based on almost everything he says and does. I’m outraged that he is a political candidate in my country!

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