The political spouse once had a single space to fill, smiling onstage beside her husband and children as the confetti and balloons streamed down. Hillary Clinton broke that mold in 1992, when she offered voters a two-for-one deal: a favorite cookie recipe and a proposal for universal health care.

These days, the spousal rules seem to have fallen by the wayside completely. The current wives (and a husband) of Republican candidates include two Wall Street executives, two nurses, an almost-Ph.D. in marketing and a political consultant who once counted one of her husband’s rivals as a client. Of the group, at least eight have taken on major campaign roles such as fundraising, helping to write policy and keeping morale high. There are also those who stay focused on the home front, caring for children along with occasional charity work. If there is a common theme, it is the lack of uniformity. Today’s spouses get to support their partners however they please.

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