ABC’s Raddatz Throws Softball to Hillary on First Spouses; ‘Is It Time to Change the Role?’

In the final set of questions of Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate prior to the closing statements, ABC’s co-moderator Martha Raddatz served up a massive softball to frontrunner Hillary Clinton concerning how former President Bill Clinton would function as a member of the First Family if Hillary is elected president. 

Promising “to make a very sharp turn as we wrap things up here,” Raddatz began by explaining to Clinton: “First Ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse, but they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor.”

As Clinton looked on with a smile and laugh, Raddatz continued by asking if it was “time to change the role of a President’s spouse”:

I know you think you know where I'm going here. 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. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a President's spouse?

In her response, Clinton alluded to current First Lady Michelle Obama’s various initiatives before giving a preview as to how she’d envision the role of Bill Clinton as the First Man:

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 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, but 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. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s Democratic Presidential Debate on December 19 can be found below.

ABC’s Democratic Presidential Debate
December 19, 2015
10:33 p.m. Eastern

MARTHA RADDATZ: And we're going to make a very sharp turn as we wrap things up here. Secretary Clinton, First Ladies, as you well know, have used their position to work on important causes like literacy and drug abuse, but they also supervise the menus, the flowers, the holiday ornaments and White House decor. I know you think you know where I'm going here. 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. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a President's spouse? 

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, the role has been defined by each person who's held it and I am very grateful for all my predecessors and my successors because each of them not only did what she could to support her husband and our country but often chose to work on important issues that were of particular concern. Obviously, Mrs. Obama has been a terrific leader when it comes to young people's health, particularly nutrition and exercise and I think has had a big impact. 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 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, but 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. 


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NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates Media Bias Debate Liberals & Democrats ABC Video President Clinton Martha Raddatz Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton
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