Yo Mama

It’s nothing new for candidates to exploit their families. MittRomney makes regular appearances with his entourage of chiseled, heterosexual,all-American sons and their wives. But with the caucuses approaching,candidates are pulling out the nuclear option of familial endorsements: their mothers.

Hillary has a new campaign ad featuring her mother, Dorothy. Dorothy wants voters to know “what a good personshe is. She never was envious of anybody. She was helpful.” Earlier this week,the Edwards campaign announced the shocking news that both of John Edwards’ parents, Wallace and Bobbie, haveendorsed their son. (Watch them phonebank for him here .) John McCain trottedout his 95-year-old mom this week, too. “If there’s any questions we mighthave about any age problem in this campaign, there’s my genes,” he says,pointing out his mother.

Mothers are the perfect campaign weapon. First of all, theyprove that someone loves thecandidate—even if he’s a candidate only a mother could love. Showing yoursofter side isn’t always a smart move, but when it’s your mother, no worries.Secondly, they’re non-controversial. No one is going to question a mother’smotivation or doubt their sincerity. And lastly, mothers are irrefutable: Whatthey say, goes. Rival campaigns don’t dare accuse someone’s mother of lying orcheap shots. (Wives, by contrast, are not immune to this.)

Of course, dotty parents can also be a liability. McCain’smother embarrassed the campaign in November by vaguely suggesting that Mitt Romney’s work at theOlympics was tainted by his Mormonism.

But in general, introducing your mom can only help. Barack Obama, whose family life has been more complicated that most other candidates’, has yet to bring his mother out on the trail. If he makes it to the general, the people will no doubt want to meet the parent.

UPDATE 1:59 p.m.: Scratch that last part. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, died of cancer in 1995.