In Depth

US election 2016: Will Chelsea Clinton take on first lady duties?

Friends suggest Hillary's husband Bill may 'get a pass on much of the drudgery of ceremonial housekeeping'

If Hillary Clinton is elected president next month, her husband Bill will become the first male presidential spouse in US history – but could it be their daughter Chelsea who takes on the traditional first lady role?

What will Bill Clinton's title be?

The formal title for the role is "first gentleman", although Bill Clinton has joked about becoming America's "first dude". However, former presidents are still referred to as "Mr President" so the moniker is not so simple, says CBS News: "When you look at it that way, the Clintons could very well be referred to as 'president and president'. Talk about setting a president precedent!"

What will he do in the White House?

Hillary has suggested she would turn to her husband for advice, especially on the economy, and may give him a "specific global problem to solve", says Time magazine. Family friends say he could also be dispatched abroad to put his experience and skill-set to good use. But most political commentators agree he is unlikely to take up the more traditional first lady duties, such as decorating, managing florists and catering.

Who will carry out those responsibilities then?

"Clinton family confidantes say that Bill Clinton may get a pass on much of the drudgery of ceremonial housekeeping – and that the responsibility for choosing cutlery and curtains may fall to the couple's 36-year-old daughter, Chelsea Clinton," says QZ.

Hillary has said she will "keep an eye" on the "more social aspects" of the White House, says Time magazine. But friends of Chelsea say she is likely to "lend a hand around major events and holidays, at least by phone and email, and to help her father with some of the traditional duties of a president's spouse", reports the New York Times. She is also expected to take over the family foundation if her mother wins next month.

"Any suggestion that Chelsea Clinton might be relied upon to perform traditional first-lady tasks has the potential to strike a nerve, prompting concerns about an overly gendered view of presidential family roles," says the NYT.

But, the newspaper adds, Hillary, like Chelsea, had a top degree and an accomplished career when she "threw herself into the role of first lady in the 1990s".

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