What woman has been closest to the Presidency?

I don’t believe any female candidate has ever received an appreciable number of votes for the presidency (of the US), but there’s more than one way to take office. The official order of presidential succession seems to be as follows:

Vice President
Speaker of the House
President pre tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior

So, has there ever been a woman {speaker of the house, president pro tempore, secretary of state…}? For what woman would the fewest number of politicians had to die for her to attain office? (Janet Reno?)

Well, the closest most recent one would be Madeline Albright as Clinton’s Secretary of State. Janet Reno was Clinton’s AG, and Condeleeza Rice is Bush’s Secretary of Defense.

Wasn’t Albright foreign-born and therefore ineligible for the Presidency?

IIRC, Albright isn’t a citizen by birth. Condeleeza Rice’s title is “National Security Advisor.” (Donald Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense.)

It looks like Reno has been the closest.

You’re right, my bad. Sometimes I get Rumsfeld and Rice mixed up.

Edith Wilson was essentially President of the United States after Woodrow Wilson suffered an incapacitating stroke. She controlled all access to her husband and, by most accounts, made all decisions for him.

How was this arrangement successful? How did she keep the VP from stepping in?

Janet Reno is a woman? Cite?

Geraldine Ferraro was only two steps away, via a different path.

Thomas Marshall was the VP, Wilson didn’t want him and thought little of him. Marshall was personna non-grata from the beginning, attended only one cabinet meeting and was known for a number of clever comments concerning the uselessness and frivolity of the vice-presidency.

One of those steps being actually getting elected? :slight_smile:

Yep, getting elected is a step. As the OP said, “there’s more than one way to take office.” Just needed to get her party in power, and only one politician to die.

Since the passage of the 25th amendment, that would be most unlikely to happen now. Even if a majority of the cabinet was against a particular vice-president acting as president, the political pressure to have someone in charge who could actually walk and talk would be too intense to withstand.

Just so everyone is clear, Janet Reno isn’t the only woman to have been in the line of Presidential succession. There have been women in the Cabinet since Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. I don’t have time right now to look up which women held which posts and where the law of succession at that time put them, but there have been several women who were in line.

But it’s a bigger step than most.

All my daughter has to do is grow up, get nominated, and get elected. So, she’s three steps away from being president? Wait, my wife is two steps away.

How many steps away was Elizabeth Dole? Hilary Clinton?

This webpage shows Gale Norton one step behind Janet Reno.

Well, let’s see. Of all the VP candidates nominated by the two major parties, half are actually elected, right? So Ferraro’s chances were roughly 50% to become VP of the USA, and thus being one step away from the presidency. What are your daughter’s chances of getting nominated? Probably not as good, I’d guess. I don’t see the comparison at all.

And what are the odds of enough people dying for Madeline Albright to take office? In fact, making it from VP candidate to actual VP is a much **smaller ** step than the deaths supposed by the other posts. How often does the VP become president, excluding getting elected on their own…1 in 6-ish? (Im not taking the time to do a real estimate there) Those are much worse odds. So Ferraro is roughly 1 in 12, and Albirght is roughly 1 in 216, and the others proposed are even worse.

The closest woman at the moment is Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, followed by Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

Factual answers for factual questions…

Presidential succession rules were first set in 1792, changed in 1886 and again in 1947. The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 set the current order. After VP, speaker, and senate pro tem, the cabinet members succeed in the order in which their departments were created.

No women served anywhere in the line of succession prior to 1979. Since then, 14 women have served in the cabinet, with two (Elizabeth Dole and Patricia Roberts Harris) holding more than one position.

Albright was the highest ranking women, but since she was born in Czechoslovakia, she is ineligible to serve as President accorsing to the Constituion. As others have said, the highest ranking eligible woman was Janet Reno.
Female cabinet members in US History (listed in succession order):

State: Madeline Albright (1997-2001)
Treasury: none
Defense: none
Justice (Attorney General): Janet Reno (1993-2001)
Interior: Gale Norton (2001-present)
Agriculture: Ann Veneman (2001-present)
Commerce: none
Labor: Ann McLaughlin (1987-1989), Elizabeth Dole (1989-1991), Lynn Martin (1991-1993), Alexis Herman (1997-2001), Elaine Chao (2001-present)
**Health, Educatiion & Welfare (defunct): ** Patricia Roberts Harris (1979)
Health and Human Services: Patricia Roberts Harris (1979-1981), Margaret Heckler (1983-1985), Donna Shalala (1993-2001)
Housing and Urban Development: Patricia Roberts Harris (1977-1979)
Transportation: Elizabeth Dole (1983-1987)
Energy: Hazel O’Leary (1993-1997)
Education: Shirley Hufstedler (1979-1981)
Veterans Affairs: none
Homeland Security: none

No woman has served as Speaker of the House or President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

anson, your list is incomplete.

Frances Perkins was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt. She served for 12 years.

Oveta Culp Hobby was Eisenhower’s Secretary of Health Education and Welfare from 1953-1955

Carla Hills was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Ford administration (1975-1977)

As you note, Albright and Reno were the highest ranking women in any Cabinet.