This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, November 17, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) thanks his wife Maria on Election Day, saying he couldn't have done it without her, the same thing many successful men say about their wives.

Heather Nauert is here with more on the political power wives.

HEATHER NAUERT, FNC CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. Well, Maria Shriver (search) was called the secret weapon on her husband's campaign. She softened her husband's image, making him more palatable to the swing voters and, of course, helped get out the vote.

She is not the only woman to have stood firmly behind her man. Joining me now is author David Heymann (search) who's written about women who stand alongside powerful political men in his book The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club. He's also written extensively about the Kennedys. David, today's big question is, how much does the governorator owe to his wife Maria Shriver?

C. DAVID HEYMANN, AUTHOR, GEORGETOWN LADIES SOCIAL CLUB: Well, it's strange that he said he was elected on faith and hope. He was elected on faith, hope and Maria Shriver. Maria being a Kennedy, Kennedys originated that whole process of brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles all campaigning on behalf of the candidate as they did in John F. Kennedy's case in 1960 when he was elected president.

NAUERT: I guess they really know better than any other political family in the country how to take on a scandal, how to handle it and how to make it a plus out of a minus.

HEYMANN: Absolutely. And that was the strength in this election in California. The fact that he was quoted in an interview he had given much earlier in his career that talked about orgies and drug use. And the Los Angeles Times coming up with allegations of womanizing etcetera, etcetera. I mean, Maria demonstrate a great deal of thick skinnedness in order to support her man.

NAUERT: Had that scandal not basically haunted him at the very last moment, would as many people have come out in support of her and her husband?

HEYMANN: I think that had the scandal not occurred, there probably would have been — you know, he would have won an even larger margin, frankly. The thing is that — look, the Kennedys have been haunted by scandals their entire political careers and so Maria is well-schooled in how to deal with this sort of an incident.

NAUERT: What is it about women who stand behind or stand alongside these powerful men that basically helps the men to, I don't know, achieve their full potential or to go out and really go get 'em?

HEYMANN: Well, the day is different now than it was in the earlier part of the 20th century. It's a complex political arena that the candidate is faced with. It takes more than just a single person to win an election. People are no longer voting for simply one person, be it a male or female. They are voting — it's almost a family unit that is being issued into office.

NAUERT: So people really have bought into the thing that Clinton used to say, during his first time around, saying you get two for the price of one?

HEYMANN: Hillary Clinton was, you know, as he called her, the co-president and, in fact, now she is a viable political presidential candidate in either 2008 or even 2004. So, we may see the co-presidential couple back in office. Who knows?

NAUERT: Now in your book, you spent a lot of time, of course, in Georgetown and you've written about some very powerful women in the past. What have you found about how much influence these women really do wield with their political husbands or their powerful husbands? I know you followed around or have written about Katherine Graham (search), former publisher of The Washington Post and her husband.

HEYMANN: Well, her husband actually died in 1963, killed himself. Katharine Graham took over The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine. And we all know the power that she wielded. She brought down Richard Nixon. As a matter of fact, Nixon was so taken aback by the power syndrome of the Georgetown ladies that he said this is a shadowy conspiracy of women.

NAUERT: Did Nixon feel threatened by these women back then?

HEYMANN: At the beginning, he thought this is not something — these women are not something that I have to pay attention to. But he soon learned that these women were enormously powerful. By the same token, it was Pamela Harriman, another one of the five, who put in a president. Bill Clinton, when she died in 1997, Bill Clinton stood by Mrs. Harriman's grave and said, I am here, as president, because of her. She raised $70 million in his behalf.

NAUERT: What about sort of the reverse of that? The men standing alongside powerful women? Of course, nowadays, we have many powerful women holding high political office. How important is a male spouse to a female politician now?

HEYMANN: Well, I think that we see less of that because, you know, the tradition being what it is, we haven't yet reached that point where, you know, men of political spouses are there ready to give up their careers and march alongside their female consorts, their partners. But that day will come. And I think Bill Clinton is a case in point. I think he is ready to support Hillary.

NAUERT: Okay. Thank you very much, David Heymann, for joining us. Good luck with your book.

Now, the new first lady of California was among the first to speak at her husband's inaugural today. She read a poem by author Maya Angelou, and she later held the Bible as her husband gave the oath of office - John.

GIBSON: All right, Heather Nauert. Heather, thank you very much.

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