Trump or Clinton, the Next First Spouse Will Be Unprecedented
Policy + Politics

Trump or Clinton, the Next First Spouse Will Be Unprecedented

REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump lands in the Oval Office, the first spouse will be a first.

Clinton herself would be a double first: the first woman elected president (but you knew that) and the first former first lady to hold the nation’s highest office.

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Bill Clinton, who was sometimes called the “first black president” (at least before there was a bona fide African-American commander-in-chief), will be a true first if his wife doesn’t somehow turn what the website FiveThirtyEight says is a 79.2 percent chance of winning into defeat: the only first husband in history.

Should Trump, whose odds of winning keep plummeting – from 34.1 percent on June 8 to 20.7 percent today – somewhere find a civil tongue and overcome an increasingly vivid portrayal as a not-all-that-slick huckster, his wife Melania would also break new ground as the first first lady from a non-English-speaking country (Slovenia) and only the second to be foreign-born. Louisa Adams, wife of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was born in England, but she was first lady more than 190 years ago.

Hillary Clinton has said that former President Clinton would have a crucial role in her administration of revitalizing the economy. Such a position would arguably be even more critical than the one Hillary had when in an unprecedented official role for a first lady, she attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to reform the U.S. health care system. So another prospective first for Bill.

Since six former secretaries of state later became president – Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan – Hillary wouldn’t be the first. But she would be the first female former secretary of state to lead a cabinet.

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And while the glamorous Melania Trump would be the first former model to be first lady, even at 5’11” she wouldn’t be the tallest. She would be tied in that category with Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama.