The next first lady of the United States could be a former first daughter, a prominent White House expert says. C-SPAN co-CEO Susan Swain predicts that if Hillary Clinton locks up the Democratic nomination and prevails in the general election, Chelsea Clinton will assume the role of first lady instead of Bill Clinton wearing that hat.
“There is a social function to the first lady’s role, and that will not go away,” Swain told The Daily Mail in an interview. “It is important to have somebody in that role. The best guesstimate with the Clintons is that Chelsea Clinton would take over that role.”
Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented either. It’s been a century since it last happened officially, but America has had first daughters handle first lady duties. Following the death of Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Ellen, their 28-year-old daughter Margaret, who had been living with them in the White House, took over as first lady in 1914 on an interim basis until Wilson remarried (not sure how he had time to date while running the country, but that’s neither here nor there). According to the National First Ladies’ Library, President Wilson’s cousin, Helen Bones, also handled the duties on occasion after Ellen died. Prior to Margaret Wilson’s brief tenure as first lady, several other first daughters have handled the job as well, The Daily Mail noted.
For his part, Bill Clinton has indicated that he might be up for the role of first gentleman. During his final appearance on Letterman Tuesday night, Clinton told the funnyman that, should Hillary be elected president, he would move back into the White House. “If I’m asked,” he quipped.
Bill’s apparent enthusiasm for the role could set up an interesting Clinton campaign within a Clinton campaign between father and daughter.
Presumably, Chelsea would need to mount a grassroots campaign to take on her father since one PAC is already backing Bill for first lady. Chelsea has actual experience handling first lady duties, though. Back in 2000, at the tender age of 19, she filled in while her mom began planning a senate bid. Chelsea didn’t maintain the active schedule that her mom did, but she accompanied her dad on an official state visit to Australia, according to the National First Ladies’ Library, and made several other appearances.
Not sure Bill can boast those sorts of credentials on his resume.