Jeri Thompson is significantly younger than her husband, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson — when they married in 2002, she was 35 to his 59. But she is an accomplished politico in her own right, and has been accused by some of micromanaging the campaign.
Although she once worked for the Republican National Committee, she tells Michele Norris that the presidential campaign is all new to her.
"There are, I would probably say, a hundred million things I didn't know about this process or how it was going to work, so every single day has been a revelation — some good, some bad," she says.
Her strong opinions might have led some people to misunderstand her role in the campaign, she says. But she was reassured at a forum earlier this year where she met other candidates' spouses.
"These women who have done this a lot longer than me ... their advice to me was, 'Don't feel defensive about loving your husband, defending your husband, and being passionate about the things he's passionate about. "
Asked about her husband's delay in announcing his candidacy, she says the former Tennesee senator wasn't being noncommittal. Campaigns should be shorter, she says: "Should we really be spending $100 million per candidate in a primary? I'm not sure that's the best use of anyone's money. He wasn't playing footsie at all — he had responsibilities contractually with NBC — he was on Law & Order — and he also had a contract with ABC Radio.
"You know , if you're not planning on running [for president] your whole life, and then you make a decision based on a lot of grass-roots support and encouragement, you can't just go down to Wal-Mart and pick up your I'm Running for President Kit and turn this on a dime."