Wednesday, August 06, 2003
A Rare Interview with the Future First Lady http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-dean6aug06,1,7571105.story?coll=la-headlines-politics
"We have a true partnership based on mutual respect," he said. "She is going to be different than most first ladies."
Far from the model favored by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton — a two-for-one co-presidency in which Hillary Clinton played a major role in formulating White House policy — Dean and Steinberg are offering a new paradigm.
In the nearly 12 years that Dean was governor of Vermont, Steinberg attended only a few official events a year, and then only when her husband asked.
She said Vermont accepted her career, and she expects the nation to as well.
"I think the country's ready," she said. "I'm like a lot of women. I go to work. My husband travels for his job."
Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, agreed that Steinberg's arms-length approach to her husband's career could be turned to political advantage. "I think the public might find it quite refreshing," she said. "It reinforces his profile as an anti-politician. It's who they are."
"When she was the first lady of Vermont, I asked her to attend the things I thought were important, but I didn't ask her to a lot of things," Dean said. "It's not her bag. What she does really well is be a doctor and a mother."
Unfazed by his wife's separate career track — "I'm proud of her independence," he said — Dean recalled that when he was chairman of the National Governors Assn., there were frequent social events, so he invited Susan Bayh — wife of Evan Bayh, Indiana's former governor and now a Democratic senator — to act as his first lady. "Susan agreed to be my surrogate spouse. She's very outgoing; she likes politics."
"People in Vermont admire her," Hoyt said. "She is a wonderfully kind, very thoughtful and gentle personality who makes you feel comfortable."
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