Graham talks with a patron during a campaign stop at a New Hampshire diner. (Photo: Jim Cole/AP)
If Republican presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham is elected president, the unmarried South Carolina senator says he will have a “rotating first lady.”
“Well, I’ve got a sister,“ Graham told the Daily Mail Online. "She could play that role if necessary.”
It hasn’t been necessary in a long time. Assuming Graham doesn’t get hitched before his inauguration, the 59-year-old would be the first bachelor in the White House since Woodrow Wilson, whose first wife, Ellen Wilson, died in 1914, a year into his term. (Wilson remarried the following year.)
As Politico points out, there have been just two presidents who were unmarried when they took the oath of office.
“There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during and after his four years in the White House,” Jim Loewen wrote in Salon in 2014. “Moreover, the nation knew it, too — he was not far into the closet. Today, I know no historian who has studied the matter and thinks Buchanan was heterosexual.”
Graham waves to supporters during a “Roast & Ride” campaign event in Iowa. (Photo: Dave Kaup/Reuters)
Grover Cleveland, like Wilson, got married during his first term. In 1886, Cleveland, 49, wed Frances Folsom, 21, the youngest first lady in U.S. history. Before he did, Cleveland’s sister, Rose, acted as a “hostess” for his administration.
Graham’s sister, Darline Graham Nordone, lives with her husband and two daughters in South Carolina.
“I’ve got a lot of friends,“ Graham said. "We’ll have a rotating first lady.”
He added: “If I get to be in the White House, I’ll bring members of Congress and their families down. We’ll interact like Ronald Reagan did; we’ll have a lot of chance to get to know each other. I’m a social kind of guy.”
In an interview with CNN Wednesday, Graham used the topic as an opportunity to highlight his family history.
“As a young man, I had challenges like most people,” he said. “I lost my parents when I was 22, had a 13-year-old sister to raise. With the help of my aunt and uncle, I was able to help her get through college. My family, my friends and faith picked me up when I was down. We kind of got wiped out when my mom got Hodgkin’s disease. I’m the first in my family to go to college.”
But Graham admitted that the White House would be missing a missus in his administration.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got a great first lady in Michelle Obama, and Laura Bush — the last two have been really good,” Graham said. “I don’t bring that to the table.”