There Is Crying in Politics

When Sen. Hillary Clinton teared up Monday as she spoke with New Hampshire voters about the personal wear and tear of the grueling campaign, it wasn't the first time a presidential hopeful had gotten emotional in public.

Thirty-five years earlier Ed Muskie watched his presidential campaign slide into oblivion when the media reported that moisture on the side of his face during a news conference where he was defending his wife from criticism was tears.

Though Muskie always maintained the wetness was caused by snow dripping off his face, the damage was done and it sealed his fate as a man too sensitive for the White House.

Today emotional displays on the trail won't necessarily sink a candidate's aspirations.

Clinton's voice quavered Monday as she said, "You know this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it." But it didn't necessarily mean the end of her campaign.

"I'm sure you're going to get a lot of women. They're going to say 'Now, that's the real Hillary. That's who I've been looking for,'" said body language expert Janine Driver. "The men that are seeing this — they might be like, 'She's running for president? She's supposed to be calling the shots.' It really makes people feel a little uncomfortable, uneasy."

Clinton wasn't even the first candidate who lost composure during this election cycle.

Republican Mitt Romney teared up last month on "Meet the Press" when he spoke about the Mormon church ending discrimination and allowing blacks into the priesthood in 1978.

"I literally wept. Even to this day it's emotional," a visibly shaken Romney said.

Twenty years earlier former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder got weepy during a speech where she said she would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

Even the original iron lady, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, choked up as she was leaving office.

President Bush and his father have both gone teary in public. The current president is known to particularly struggle with his emotions when talking about casualties in Iraq or when meeting the families of soldiers who died in combat.

The softer sides of politicians seem to be par for the course today.

"I have so many opportunities from this country I just don't want to see us fall backwards," Clinton said Monday.

For the usually stoic former first lady, the glimpse into her personal side may just pay off in the polls.