Politics & Government

10 firsts in the race for president: First woman, first Hispanic, first billionaire among field

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, would be the first female president if elected. She’d also be the first first lady elected president. But she’s hardly the only potential first in this year’s race for the White House.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, would be the first female president if elected. She’d also be the first first lady elected president. But she’s hardly the only potential first in this year’s race for the White House. NYT

In 1960, John F. Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic elected to the White House.

Nearly half a century went by before the next historic first happened: In 2008, Barack Obama was elected, making him the first African-American to attain the presidency.

On Saturday, as voters in the South Carolina primary begin playing their part in shaping history, here’s a reminder that the United States may soon be on the verge of yet another first – or maybe a few firsts – for the White House.

Here are 10 “first” scenarios:

First woman president

Hillary Clinton. Women have been running for president of the United States since 1872, when Victoria Woodhull ran under the banner of the Equal Rights Party – along with running mate Frederick Douglass.

But former Secretary of State Clinton, a Democrat, is the first woman given a good chance of winning a major party’s nomination – and the White House.

First Hispanic president

Marco Rubio ... or Ted Cruz. Both freshman Republican senators hail from states – Florida and Texas – with large Latino populations. And both trace their ancestry to the Spanish-speaking island of Cuba.

Their presidential runs come at a time when immigration is a hot-button election year issue and Hispanics make up the country’s fastest growing voter group.

Hispanics in South Carolina shared their views on immigration reform and reacted to what some presidential candidates are saying on the issue.

First Jewish president

Bernie Sanders ... or Michael Bloomberg. In 2000, the Democratic Party nominated then-Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an Orthodox Jew, for vice president.

Last month in New Hampshire, Vermont Sen. Sanders, running as a Democrat, became the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary. And former New York Mayor Bloomberg has acknowledged that he is mulling a run this year as an independent.

First M.D. president

Ben Carson. Plenty of lawyers have moved into the White House. But Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, would be the first doctor president if he can come back from his drop in the polls.

The history books say only one president had any medical training. And it wasn’t much. Long before his brief tenure as the ninth president, William Henry Harrison quit his one medical course to go fight Indians.

First billionaire president

Donald Trump .. or Michael Bloomberg. Plenty of presidents have come from families with fortunes – including John Kennedy and the two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin.

But Bloomberg and real estate tycoon/TV reality star Trump are billionaires with a B. That means they could bankroll most or all of their campaigns rather than rely on the kind of big donors who usually seek access and favors from the presidents they help elect.

First septuagenarian elected president

Bernie Sanders ... or Donald Trump ... or Michael Bloomberg. If any of them win in November, they would become the oldest person ever elected president. The record is now held by Republican Ronald Reagan, who was 69 when he was first elected in 1980.

Sanders will turn 75 before Election Day. Bloomberg isn’t far behind, at 74.

And Trump will turn 70 in June of this year.

First non-politician president (since Eisenhower)

Donald Trump ... or Ben Carson. For most presidents, reaching the White House is the culmination of a career dotted with stints in other elected posts: Mayor, governor, senator.

But for businessman Trump or physician Carson, the presidency would be their first public office. Historically, non-politicians who reach the White House have come from the military. That was the path for U.S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower, both Republicans.

First First Lady elected president

Hillary Clinton. Eleanor Roosevelt, who was First Lady in the 1930s and ’40s, was a power in the Democratic Party until her death in the early 1960s. But she never ran for office.

Clinton was a political adviser to her husband, President Bill Clinton, who put her in charge of health care reform. After his two terms, she embarked on her own political career, getting elected senator from New York in 2000. This is her second run for president.

First family with three presidents

Jeb Bush. The history of the American presidency includes two father-and-son acts: John Adams and son John Quincy; and George H.W. Bush and son George W.

But the election of Republican Jeb Bush – son to George H.W., brother to George W – would make the Bush family the first to ever able to claim three presidents in the same household.

First First Gentleman

Bill Clinton. If Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th president, husband and former President Bill Clinton would become the first ... First Gentleman? First Man? First Guy?