BEDFORD, New Hampshire – The first-in-the-nation primary state received a visit from a potential first lady Wednesday.
Kelley Paul, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, received a warm welcome from a crowd of mostly women in a private home where she stopped to promote her new book,“True and Constant Friends.” “I want to support Rand however I can,” Kelley told msnbc, adding, “I think that we need some new leadership, so I’m going to work hard to elect Rand Paul.”
Kelley said her role in the campaign is to support her husband and the rest of their family as they “juggle travel and a lot of demands” on their time. “I see myself giving some more speeches probably, helping with some of his messaging.”
The Kentucky senator’s wife is a former political consultant and will play a larger role in this campaign than her mother-in-law, Carol – the wife of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul – ever did. “I think the Ron Paul campaign lost out by not using Carol more, early and often. Because once she started kind of putting herself out there, people absolutely loved ‘Luvie,’ as we call her. I would have liked to see more of her in Ron’s campaign.”
Considered by the Paul campaign to be a “secret weapon,” Kelley Paul’s biggest role is to soften his image. Earlier this week on NBC’s “Today Show,” she defended the senator’s testy interview with Savannah Guthrie and charges of sexism that followed. “As a spouse, you always want the person you love to come off the best that they can, so it’s hard for me sometimes to see him being criticized because that’s not who he is in terms of his relationships with women,” she told “Today Show” host Hoda Kotb. “His longtime surgical partner, over 10 years, was a female surgeon.”
When asked why women should vote for her husband, Paul said “women care about same thing that men do” – the economy. “The biggest issues that we’re facing right now are a lack of jobs, concern over the debt and the deficit and the spending, and where that leaves our country. So, I think most women, like most men, are looking for a more prosperous country. … I think Rand has some great ideas and some great energy and that direction and I hope women will take a look at him.”
The gathering of about 50 women was hosted by the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women at the home of Ann Marie Banfield, who introduced the political spouse before her speech.
Paul proudly described her grandmother, an Irish immigrant, as “a poor girl traveling alone with money sewn into her underwear.” “I was not in steerage with the rabble,” she said in an Irish accent as she described her grandmother’s telling of the journey to America. “We had dances and parties in third class,” she said to laughter.
Paul’s book is a compilation of essays written with several of her closest friends about the bonds forged by women. Asked if she would effort a new book with the wives of other presidential candidates’ spouses after this campaign, Paul laughed. “Oh, that’s a good concept! You know, I really don’t know, but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll all become true and constant friends!”