The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman appeared on "The Chris Matthews Show" Sunday, along with the BBC's Katty Kay, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell, and Time Magazine's Michael Duffy, to discuss the GOP's potential 2012 candidates, and the potential hurdles they face.
One challenge several potential nominees may face is their personal histories. Newt Gingrich is on his third marriage. Donald Trump is, "Well, Trump," as Matthews puts it. And Mitch Daniels' wife left him and their four daughters in 1993, and reconciled with them a few years later.
"Is this going to be the kind of, for lack of a better word, ickey discussion that no wife or husband really wants to spend a year talking about?" Matthews asked.
"He will be able to carry this because of his own character," Howard responded. "And while there will be stories about the wife, and things to discuss, it's not necessarily in this day and time an insuperable barrier, even though it's going to be a side story all the way along."
"I think the issue here is not the divorce," Katty Kay added, noting that several Republican candidates who have been divorced and that voters have grown more tolerant of divorce in a politician's past. "We're looking really at the balance between character and political prowess," she said. Are voters in this difficult time going to think, 'Right we can overcome someone's past, we can overcome someone's personal foibles, because we think they have the intellect and the courage to be president,' or are they still going to vote on character?"