Twitter Called out ABC for This Sexist Question During the Democratic Debate

ABC's moderators seemingly didn't have time to ask any questions about climate change or women's reproductive health at the third Democratic debate held Saturday evening in New Hampshire. But they were able to work in a question about the role of a president's spouse before the end of the program, which was highly criticized on Twitter almost as soon as it left moderator Martha Raddatz's microphone:

"[F]irst 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?"

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The response on Twitter was swift, with many crying foul over what they felt was a frivolous, sexist question.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first to answer Raddatz's inquiry, laughing awkwardly before stating:

"[T]he 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."

Clinton then paid homage to current First Lady Michelle Obama, commending the FLOTUS for being a "terrific leader" when advocating for the health issues of young Americans and adding that any family member of a president — past or future — has "an extraordinary privilege of not only having a front row seat on history but making her or maybe his contribution."

Her campaign later took to Twitter, too, for a tongue-in-cheek dig at the line of questioning.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley got their chance to speak on the role of the first spouse as well.

Sanders — after congratulating Clinton on redefining the position of first lady — spoke about the parenting skills of his wife who he stated "would do a great job in helping me accomplish those goals," referring to reforming the child care system and building after-school programs.

But before allowing O'Malley to answer, Raddatz elaborated on her question, asking if his wife would have to gve up her career as a district court judge in order to be first lady.

"Katie has never been a person who let her husband's professional choices get in the way of following her dreams," said O'Malley. "So Katie O'Malley will do whatever Katie O'Malley wants to do, regardless of her husband's success in getting elected president." Bravo.

The entire episode was strange in a debate largely comprised of substantive questions. Unfortunately, it may point to an as-yet unresolved rift in American politics: how we respect or don't respect women in politics. A poll commissioned by Huffington Post and MAKERS in late October shows that while 20 percent of men think that their male counterparts respect women in political roles, only 7 percent of women agree.

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