01/26/2012 10:37 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2012

GOP Candidates Sound Off On Why Their Wives Would Make Great First Ladies

Each of the four Republican candidates explained in Thursday night's debate why his wife would make a great first lady.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) gave a brief answer, referencing his 54-year marriage to Carol Paul and their upcoming anniversary, as well as his wife's cookbook, "The Ron Paul Cookbook."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was next, and he told moderator Wolf Blitzer, "My wife is a real champion. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and [later] breast cancer," and as first lady "she'll be able to reach out to people who are suffering with compassion and care." Romney also mentioned his wife Ann would likely encourage young people to get married before having children.

Newt Gingrich began by complimenting the other three candidates' spouses, and said his wife Callista is "not necessarily better," but she "brings a couple of things." He went on to describe his third wife's musical talents -- playing French horn, singing in a choir -- and said she "would bring a really strong feeling for music education and for art and why it matters to people" as first lady. He also mentioned her children's book about American exceptionalism and the movies she has produced with Gingrich. "She would bring an artistic flair," Gingrich said, and he would "be thrilled to hang out with her at the White House."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) gave the most eloquent answer of the four, saying his wife Karen wasn't at the debate because "she's doing what she does, incredibly well, which is to be a mother to our seven children and she is -- she's my hero."

"She was a neo-natal intensive care nurse, [at] one of the most advanced nurseries in the country ... and she saw all the ethical challenges there, she went on and got a law degree to deal with those in the legal world."

Santorum also mentioned the child he and his wife lost, as well as their daughter Bella, who has a developmental disability. "We've been through a lot together, losing a child, having a child with a disability ... and the amount of love for these special kids is just palpable."

Santorum also claimed to know that "hundreds of lives that were saved," because people read the book about their lost child, "Letters to Gabriel," and "realized that the child they were carrying had the dignity to be loved and nurtured irrespective of what malady may have befallen that baby in the womb and so many children were born and are alive today because of that book."