Hillary Clinton on Role of Presidential Spouse

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The final minutes of Saturday night's ABC News Democratic presidential debate took a sharp turn when candidates were pressed to answer whether or not it is time for the role of a president's spouse to change.

ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz first posed the question to former first lady Hillary Clinton.

"You have said that Bill Clinton is a great host and loves giving tours but may opt out of picking flower arrangements if you're elected," Raddatz began. "Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a president's spouse?"

Clinton smiled and included masculine and feminine pronouns in her answer, leaving the door open for her husband as the first man to hold the role of presidential spouse.

"So whoever is part of the family of a president has an extraordinary privilege of not only having a front row seat on history, but making her or maybe his contribution," said Clinton. "And with respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that."

Clinton continued to say that her husband would be more than just a tour guide, though. "I will certainly turn to him as prior presidents have for special missions, for advice, and in particular how we're going to get the economy working again for everybody, which he knows a little bit about," said Clinton.

The former first lady had spoken of what her husband's role might be if she is elected president several times, but this is the first time she has done so on a debate stage.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley chimed in as well, speaking fondly of their wives. Sanders said his wife Jane would have a desk next to the West Wing "given the fact that she's a lot smarter than me." He further went on to thank Clinton for her time as first lady, who he said he "thought not only did an outstanding job as our first lady but redefined what that role could be."

O'Malley also shared sentimental thoughts on his wife Katie. "Katie has never been a person who let her husband's professional choices get in the way of following her dreams," he said.

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