During the 2008 presidential election, a lot of people — myself included — wondered if some sort of October Surprise might be launched. None were. In the U.K., however, Conservative leader David Cameron — the likely winner, per the prediction markets, in the yet-to-be called election — has just unleashed a doozy: his wife Samantha is expecting the couple’s fourth child. Their first-born, Ivan, recently died at age 6 from a rare neurological condition. It is hard to imagine that a pregnant wife won’t help Cameron a bit more.
If elected, Cameron stands to be the third consecutive prime minister whose wife gives birth while campaigning or living at 10 Downing Street: Sarah Brown gave birth to James Fraser in 2006, and Cherie Blair gave birth to Leo in 2000. The last American president to have a child while in office, meanwhile, was John F. Kennedy. Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was born on August 7, 1963, and died on August 9, 1963.
If Cameron wins, how long will it take American political consultants to require their candidates’ spouses (or, if female, the candidates themselves) to deliver a pregnancy on the campaign trail? (And no, John Edwards does not count.)
Also worth noting in the upcoming U.K. election: the candidates for prime minister (Cameron, incumbent Gordon Brown, and Lib-Dem. candidate Nick Clegg) will this year debate each other, in three televised 90-minute sessions. This is a new wrinkle in British electoral politics. Apparently they’ve seen how well it works here.