Candidates Offer Views On Infidelity


JOHN EDWARDS

Couric: Harry Truman said, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Some people don't feel comfortable supporting a candidate who has not remained faithful to his or her spouse. Can you understand their position?

Edwards: Of course. I mean, for a lot of Americans, including the family that I grew up with ... it's fundamental to how you judge people and human character: Whether you keep your word, whether you keep what is your ultimate word, which is that you love your spouse, and you'll stay with them.

Couric: Do you think ... what about people who use that as a way to evaluate a candidate? In other words, there have been a number of fine presidents according to some analysts ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: ... who have certainly not been sort of exhibited the greatest moral character ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: ... when it comes to infidelity ...

Edwards: Right.

Couric: I guess is what I'm getting at.

Edwards: Yes.

Couric: So how important do you think it is in the grand scheme of things?

Edwards: I think the most important qualities in a president in today's world are trustworthiness, sincerity, honesty, strength of leadership. And certainly that goes to a part of that. It's not the whole thing. But it goes to a part of it.

Couric: So you think it's an appropriate way to judge a candidate?

Edwards: Yeah. But I don't think it's controlling. I mean, I think that, as you point out, there have been American presidents that at least according to the ... stories we've all heard, that were not faithful, that were in fact good presidents. So I don't think it controls the issue. But I think it's certain ... something reasonable for people to consider.

MITT ROMNEY

Couric: Harry Truman said, quote, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Many people say they don't feel comfortable supporting someone who's not remained faithful to their spouse. Why should they?

Romney: Well, I'm certainly faithful to my spouse, my spouse. Ann and I fell in love in high school. We really our lives revolve around each other. I'd rather be with Ann than any other person in the world. And if I have any extra time, I wanna share it with Ann. That's just the nature of ... our relationship.

I know other people who've had other circumstances. If a marriage doesn't work, if people really can't get along, if they end up really disliking each other, then I guess it's appropriate to go find a new relationship or move away from marriage. But I'd do that. I would recommend people doing that in an honorable way. And there are ways of doing that that are appropriate and ways that are not.

Couric: Well, what do you think of people who base their judgment at least partially on a candidate's ability to remain faithful to his or her spouse?

Romney: You know, I let people look at me any way they want to. I'm not gonna give advice to the American people in which aspects of a person's life they look at. After all, the president of the United States is gonna be under a microscope. He will be. The first lady will be. The whole family will be. Every mistake will be open to the world. In some respects, you respect the nation.

In some respects you represent an example to the children of America. So we're gonna get looked at in all sorts of ways. And I'm not gonna try and counsel the American people as to what to look at. I know they look at my faith, for instance. And I'm happy to have them do so. Some are critical. Some are positive. It's just part of the package. And take me as ... the whole character that I am.

Couric: Do you think that people shouldn't vote for candidates if they are -- commit adultery, for example?

Romney: I think people should be able to do what they want to do. And express their own views when they get into the ... voting booth. I'm not gonna tell them how to ... do that. And I know that people will, again, take their own counsel.

FRED THOMPSON

Couric: Harry Truman said, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Some people don't feel comfortable supporting a candidate who hasn't been faithful to his or her spouse. Can you understand their reservations?

Thompson: Yes. I can understand where that's coming from.

Couric: Do you think it's an appropriate way to evaluate a candidate?

Thompson: Everybody's gotta make up their own mind about that. I think that you can evaluate a candidate any way you want to. It's a free country. There are a lot of things that go into it. When we elect a president, we're electing the leader of the free world. We're facing tremendous challenges ahead. I don't think we've come to terms with the nature of the threats against us, really in terms ... of radical Islam and the things we've got to do and the threats to the economy with the growing retirement population, things that, of that nature.

So, nobody's perfect. Everybody has weaknesses and has made mistakes one time or another in life. But everybody's gotta decide for themselves what they want to consider that go into making up. The leader is going to have to deal with these problems of the country.

MIKE HUCKABEE

Couric: Harry Truman said, quote, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Many people don't feel comfortable supporting someone who has not remained faithful to his or her spouse.

Huckabee: Uh-huh (AFFIRM).

Couric: Can you understand their position?

Huckabee: I can. If you violate the promise that you made to the one person on earth to whom you're supposed to be closest to, and this vow was made in front of your families, your closest friends, and God, and you don't keep that, then can we trust you to keep a promise that you made to people you don't even know?

And I think that's the parallel. And that's ... the concern. Is, that a promise you make to a spouse is the most sacred one you ever make to anyone on this earth. And if ... you don't keep that, and you break that, then I think there's a good reason to be afraid that you might break other promises, because your credibility ... has really been damaged at that point.

Couric: Having said that, many people might argue, there have been a number of really fine presidents ...

Huckabee: Yeah.

Couric: F.D.R....

Huckabee: Yeah.

Couric: ... even Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy ...

Huckabee: Right. (LAUGHS)

Couric: ... just to name a few.

Huckabee: Uh-huh (AFFIRM).

Couric: And who knows about some of the others ...

Huckabee: Yeah.

Couric: ... who were not faithful to their wives.

Huckabee: I don't think it means that a person can't be a good president. Obviously, there have been some great presidents who had personal issues. I think that's going to be true of all leaders. Nobody's perfect. Nobody. Me, anybody else. We all have flaws.

One of the things that I think I've learned most about life, particularly from my experience of having been a pastor, is that the people that you think are the best people on earth? Well, they've got some secrets sitting in there, about some pretty dark spots.

And the people you think are the dregs of the earth, there's some qualities there. May not be on the surface, but they're there. The capacity to make great decisions is not always the same as the capacity to make really good personal decisions.

But it does come to the matter of, I think, whether the general population will trust you, and that if what you're saying is really true. They may believe that what you do is a good thing. It's just they don't, they may not believe that what you say is necessarily the truth.

RUDY GIULIANI

Couric: Harry Truman once said, "A man not honorable in his marital relations is not usually honorable in any other." Some people say they don't feel comfortable supporting someone who has not remained faithful to his or her spouse. Can you understand their reservations?

Giuliani: Sure, I can. Absolutely. You know, they look the every single part of us. And the ... only thing I can say to people is I'm not perfect, you know? And I've made mistakes in my life. And that ... not just in that area. In other areas and I try to learn from it. I try to -- I feel sorry about them. I try to learn from them so I don't repeat them.

Sometimes I even repeat them and ... you try again. I mean, you ... so -- I have a, maybe a more generous view of human beings and a more generous view of life. I mean, it comes from growing up as a Catholic. I mean, we're all sinners. We're all struggling. We're all trying hard. We ask for forgiveness, and then we try to improve ourselves again. And I've -- relate to other people that way. Relate to the world that way.

Couric: How important is the politician's relationship with his or her children?

Giuliani: I think it's important. And it -- but, no more important than anybody's relationship with their children. There's nothing special about politicians' relationship or a lawyer's relationship or a ... news anchors relationship with their children. Or a baseball player's relationship with their children.

It's all ... the same as far as the relationship between a ... parent and a child. Often, they're real complicated. Often, they're least understood from the outside. They're best understood from the inside. But, I don't think there's anything special about politicians' relationship with their children. Except maybe for a high profile person, and sometimes the problems that that creates.