Advertisement

As Bill Clinton turns 70, a look at where he fits into a Hillary Clinton White House

By
Amy R. Connolly
Bill Clinton (C) and vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine (R) of Virginia applaud Hillary Clinton as she delivers acceptance speech during Day four of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 28, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton will face Republican Donald Trump in the national election. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI
Bill Clinton (C) and vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine (R) of Virginia applaud Hillary Clinton as she delivers acceptance speech during Day four of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 28, 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton will face Republican Donald Trump in the national election. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Former President Bill Clinton celebrated his 70th birthday Friday, the start of a new year in which he could add another job title to his resume -- that of first dude.

If Hillary Clinton is the first woman elected as U.S. president, her husband would be the first first male to assume the spousal role, possibly calling himself the first gentleman, first husband or even first dude.

Advertisement

While the Clinton campaign has remained relatively mum on the topic, that hasn't stopped political pundits from speculating. Hillary Clinton, in her campaigning, suggested she'll turn to her husband for economic and jobs policy advice. That's a far cry from the first lady's ceremonial duties as chief hostess and domestic administrator.

"This position has always been one, first of all, that's been recognized as one that you get only by virtue of your marriage," Melanne Verveer, who served as Hillary Clinton's chief of staff during the Clinton administration, told CBS News. "There's no job description, so you're going with tradition -- and you're going with ... what the experience, talent and perspectives are that can be brought to benefiting a presidency by virtue of that position."

Advertisement
RELATED UPI/CVoter poll: Hillary Clinton's lead over Donald Trump narrows

ARCHIVE Helen Thomas commentary: Wives of 1992 presidential candidates under the microscope

The role of first lady, started in 1789, carries no official powers, instead calling on the spouse to organize social events, choose china patterns and ensure the White House is kept as a public museum. More recently, first ladies have focused on causes. First lady Michelle Obama has focused on childhood obesity. Hillary Clinton, in serving as first lady from 1993 to 2001, targeted healthcare reform, drawing the ire of lawmakers who thought she was too involved in so-called Hillarycare.

"What he cannot do, and I presume he won't, is be a visible presence in any formal policymaking capacity. Hillary can't afford to have him do this because public opinion would strongly shift against her," Seth McKee, a political scientist at Texas Tech University, told The Hill.

It's unlikely Bill Clinton will follow in the footsteps of previous first ladies. Hillary Clinton has suggested her husband would be used for "special missions" overseas. Bill Clinton said he plans to continue to work on his own projects, including delivering speeches on topics of interest.

Advertisement
RELATED Donald Trump expresses regret for causing 'personal pain'

Friday, Bill Clinton announced he will step down from running the Clinton Foundation if his wife wins the presidency.

"You have to be careful to avoid actual and potential conflicts of interest," Bill Clinton said during a session at the Clinton Global Initiative-America earlier this year. "We'll think very clearly about it and we'll do the right thing and explain it to the American people."

It's been clear from the start of the power couple's tenure in the White House in the 1990s they do not fit traditional gender roles. In 1992, Hillary Clinton, an accomplished attorney and political activist by the time her husband landed in the White House, famously roiled traditionalists nationwide with one sentence.

RELATED Donald Trump's pitch to black voters: Democrats take you for granted

After former California Gov. Jerry Brown criticized Bill Clinton during a debate, Hillary shot back, "I suppose I could have chosen to bake cookies and have teas, but I chose to fulfill my profession."

Gender roles collided again on Friday when Bill Clinton and Melania Trump, Republican nominee Donald Trump's wife, submitted cookie recipes for Family Circle magazine's Presidential Cookie Poll. Bill Clinton submitted the family's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and Melania Trump's entry was a star-shaped cookie made with egg yolks and sour cream.

Advertisement

The magazine said the reader-chosen cookie poll winner has correctly predicted the White House winner in five of the past six election cycles.

Latest Headlines