The announcement, which Chelsea Clinton made while sitting beside her mother, fuels conjecture about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for president.
By Maeve Reston
In the circus of speculation that surrounds Hillary Rodham Clinton and her presidential prospects, Chelsea Clinton dropped a bombshell Thursday with her announcement that she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting a child.
The former secretary of State has made no secret of her desire to be a grandmother, and sources close to her have said she would have serious reservations about diving into the grueling schedule of a presidential campaign if those demands coincide with her daughter’s pregnancy.
Thursday’s happy announcement — which Chelsea Clinton made during a Clinton Foundation event in New York while seated next to her mother — appeared to clear that hurdle.
The Twitter universe began debating how to factor the announcement into the “will she or won’t she run?” calculation, but the grandmother-to-be and her daughter (as usual) did not drop any hints.
“Any speculation, particularly surrounding this, is crazy,” Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi said. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is working on a memoir of her years in the State Department that will be released June 10, masterfully dodges questions about her plans at nearly every public speech. Regardless, Trippi acknowledged, “the speculation of pundits about whether she’ll go or not starts in three, two, one….”
For those looking for clues, however, Chelsea Clinton made the announcement at the end of an event for the Clinton Foundation initiative known as No Ceilings, which tracks the progress of women and girls around the world. At the live-streamed event moderated by actress America Ferrera, young girls from the Lower Eastside Girls Club, as well as four schools around the country who joined by Skype, had just spent an hour asking the Clinton women for advice on building confidence, dealing with “cocky men” and achieving their career goals.
The audience gasped and cheered when Chelsea said: “Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year. And I certainly feel all the better — whether it’s a girl or a boy — that she or he will grow up in a world full of so many strong, young female leaders. So thank you for inspiring me and inspiring future generations, including the one that we’ll be lucky enough to welcome into our family later this year.”
Ferrera, who is known for playing the title role on ABC’s “Ugly Betty” television show, said no one in the audience was beaming more at that moment than Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child — hopefully children — as my mom was to me,” Chelsea Clinton said.
Hillary Rodham Clinton said the news had added greater purpose to the foundation’s work on issues involving women and girls.
“I want to see us keep moving, and certainly for future generations as well, so that maybe our grandchild will not have to be worried about some of the things that young women and young men worry about today,” she said, addressing the girls in the audience. “We are very excited about what’s happening in our family, but we’re also very excited because of what we are doing — that we hope gives confidence and support to so many of you across our country, as you make decisions about the lives you want to lead, and trying to make sure there are no ceilings stopping you from going as far and as fast and high as you can.”
Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide, said that even “in the age of hyper political analysis” it was probably “a bridge too far” to try to draw connections between Hillary Clinton’s presidential plans and her daughter’s due date. But he noted that in recent appearances, Clinton has placed a great deal of emphasis on her concerns about the younger generation—particularly the millions of millennials who are neither in a job nor in school.
“If you’re thinking about running for the presidency, and you’re talking about the fact that we have a duty to the next generation, the fact that your kid is going to have a child only adds to that sense of responsibility – not only do the right thing, but to potentially run for the office because you’re in a unique position to do a lot more than the average person could,” Lehane said.
After the event, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to share the news: “My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be! @billclinton and I are thrilled that Chelsea and Marc are expecting their first child!”