ALTOONA, Iowa – Democrat Howard Dean (search) said Tuesday that the public will get to see his politically shy wife as the presidential campaign progresses, but he will not force her to become a "prop on the campaign trail."
Dean said his wife, Judy, will do television interviews and possibly appear in a campaign commercial. But if he wins the nomination, her life will remain focused on her medical career and caring for their teenage son still living at home, he said.
Judy Dean, 50, is a doctor with a full-time practice in their hometown of Burlington, Vt., where she is known professionally as Judy Steinbe (search)rg. Dean said she would practice medicine in Washington if he won the presidency.
"We support each other's goals in life. Her goal is to be a good doctor and a good mom. I think that's a pretty good goal and I support that," Dean told reporters from several media outlets on his campaign bus Tuesday night.
"I do not intend to drag her around because I think I need her as a prop on the campaign trail," he added.
Dean's wife has been interviewed by print reporters and radio stations during the last year, but she has not traveled with her husband on the campaign trail. She has attended just one event -- the official launch of his campaign in June.
During the half-hour interview, Dean also discussed his feelings about religion. He previously has said he feels uncomfortable, as a New Englander, talking about his spiritual beliefs, but that he would open up more about religion while campaigning in the South.
In Tuesday's interview, Dean said his thoughts on religion won't be limited to one region, and he'll talk about it whenever voters ask.
Asked if he ever thinks, "What would Jesus do?", he said no. He said the one public policy decision that was affected by his religious beliefs was his signing of a bill as governor of Vermont granting gay couples the same legal rights as married couples.
He explained that his view of Christianity (search) is to reach out to people who've been left behind.
Dean's feelings are distinctive from President Bush, a born-again Christian who frequently refers to his faith in public.
Dean's insistence on protecting his family's privacy also sets him apart from his Democratic presidential rivals, who often travel with their wives and children or send them out as surrogates to give speeches on their behalf.
Dean said his two children -- Paul, 17, and Anne, 19 -- will be "out of bounds" as he pursues the presidency.
Although Dean is going home this week to watch Paul play in a hockey game, he hesitated when asked about it. He reluctantly revealed that the team has a 9-1 record, but cut off the questioning when asked about a play his son made in a recent game.
"I'm not going to get into that stuff," Dean said. "It's his life, not mine."
Dean described his marriage as a 23-year equal partnership and close friendship.
"There's not that element of self-sacrifice of her career that there is in some political families," he said.
Sometimes voters ask whether they will see Judy Dean on the campaign trail, but Dean said their response to her decision has been mostly positive.
"Whether they are positive or not, that's the way it's going to be," he said.