Judith Giuliani will headline a breast cancer awareness event at the prestigious Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center today. Her speech — to be delivered at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Leadership Summit on Breast Cancer — will mark Mrs. Giuliani's highest-profile solo appearance in the Granite State.
After a rocky transition to public life — namely, her appearance with Mayor Giuliani in an awkward Barbara Walters television interview on ABC — Mrs. Giuliani's speech represents an opportunity to present to the voters of New Hampshire her views on an issue of great importance there — and across the nation.
It could also highlight her background as a nurse.
Although Mr. Giuliani tread into rough waters when during the interview with Mrs. Walters he seemed to suggest his wife would be a welcome participant at Cabinet meetings — Mrs. Giuliani rolled back that statement during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, saying, "I'm not a political person, and I have no desire to sit in on Cabinet meetings."
Even so, her remarks will be closely watched in New Hampshire, where this year alone, 890 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 180 will die, according to the American Cancer Society. "With Mrs. Giuliani's being there, she has the health care and professional background, she can shed light on what she would do in the White House to elevate breast cancer to a national priority and put an end to it," Komen's manager of public policy, Meghan Evett, said, adding that Elizabeth Kucinich — the wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich — would speak also. A spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign, Maria Comella, said Mrs. Giuliani was eager to speak out on an issue close to her heart.
"She's doing this because it's a worthwhile cause that she cares about," Ms. Comella said.
Many New Hampshire voters watch the campaign very closely and from an early point in the season.
A former Democratic candidate for governor, Arnie Arnesen, who hosts WZMY-TV's "Political Chowder" as well as a daily radio show on WCCM, said that how Mrs. Giuliani performs could have an impact on the primary. "This will be the first time we get to see what card she plays," Ms. Arnesen said. "This should be an opportunity for girl bonding. The question is: Does she have that capability?"
Electoral politics could lay behind the visit as well, a Democratic strategist and Fox News analyst, Mary Anne Marsh, said. "They're obviously trying to appeal to independent women on an issue that appeals to them," Ms. Marsh said, noting that independent voters can opt to cast their ballots in the Democratic or Republican contests on primary day. She said Mrs. Giuliani could score well with voters if she is "not only knowledgeable but personal" in her approach today.
Sally Bedell Smith, the author of "For Love of Politics — Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years," contrasted Mrs. Giuliani with Senator Clinton, who is the wife of a former Arkansas governor and president. "She doesn't have years of working public life as Hillary had, and even with all the things Hillary brought, her presence at the table created a lot of problems," she said. However, Ms. Bedell Smith added that breast cancer offered an opportunity for a spouse to speak on a candidate's behalf without being as controversial. "It's safer to do traditional first-spouse activities," she said. "Breast cancer is an issue that Betty Ford had. It's a traditional issue."