Newt Gingrich’s tearful moments Friday in Des Moines as he talked about his mentally ill mother are the type of memorable occurrences that can make or break a presidential candidate, an Iowa political scientist who has researched campaign tears said.
The most critical element for Gingrich: Will voters perceive his emotion as sincere?
If yes, he just might see a bump at one of the most pivotal points in any presidential campaign: the cusp of the Iowa caucuses.
“If people find it to be sincere, then I think it can be a real boost, particularly for men and particularly because he was talking about his mother and how that changed him as a person,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.
Bystrom has written articles and made presentations examining gender roles and emotions on the campaign trial. One incident she discusses happened four years ago when Hillary Clinton briefly got misty-eyed while answering a question in New Hampshire about juggling career and family.
The media and some members of the public were not kind to Clinton, questioning whether her tears were a campaign ploy, Bystrom recalled.
Headlines like one in the New York Times, “Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?” circulated like wildfire.
In the end, any bump Clinton got came because people were angered by how the former first lady had been treated, Bystrom said.More here.