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Political pundits debate Fred Thompson's younger wife

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fred Thompson

Political analysts widely regard Fred Thompson as a potential, if not likely, candidate in the United States presidential election in 2008. Thompson is a lawyer, lobbyist, character actor and former Republican Senator for Tennessee now residing in McLean, Virginia near Washington D.C.

A recent article in The New York Times (NYT) labelled his wife, Jeri Kehn Thompson as a "trophy wife" and a potential liability in the 2008 race. The NYT article described her as having "youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blonde hair" and wonders if "so-called values voters" would "accept this union."

Thompson and Kehn, married in June 2002, when he was 60 years old and she 35.

Television commentator and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough compared Kehn to a stripper and asked if "she works the pole."

According to the Associated Press, "trophy wife" originally "meant the second (or third) wife of a corporate titan, a woman who was younger, beautiful and — equally important — accomplished in her own right."

ABC News says that the current definition of "trophy wife" suggests Donald Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples and the late Anna Nicole Smith as examples.

However, ABC News also questions whether Kehn fits this definition. "Though she's blond, beautiful and nearly 25 years younger than her husband, Kehn Thompson, a political media consultant who previously worked for the Senate Republican Conference and a prestigious Washington law firm, doesn't appear to fit the typical description," wrote Emily Friedman.

Karen O'Connor, a political scientist and the director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, said Thompson may lose support from Republican women, a group he needs. It may also make it difficult to gain the support of the "value voters", already skeptical after the report that he lobbied for an abortion-rights group.

"You have a situation where a candidate happens to have an attractive wife, therefore it’s open season for smutty thoughts and lowbrow humor, and no concern for the fact that this is a wife and mother, a professional woman?" said Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department official who is a consultant and the chief media adviser to the Thompson campaign. "One picture on the Internet and all of a sudden she’s reduced to being a bimbo?"

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