A Brief History Of Spousal Speeches At Political Conventions

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tags: First Ladies, GOP Convention, DNC convention



Melania Trump was in the spotlight at the Republican National Convention last week because parts of her speech sounded a lot like Michelle Obama's 2008 convention address. Later this week, would-be first gentleman Bill Clinton is expected to speak to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. And all of this got us wondering, when did it become so conventional for the spouses of candidates to speak at conventions? NPR's Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi has more.

ALEXI HOROWITZ-GHAZI, BYLINE: 1940 - that's the first time the spouse of a presidential candidate actually made a speech before a party convention. As Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian with the National First Ladies' Library, points out, it was an election cycle of unusual circumstances.

CARL SFERRAZZA ANTHONY: Incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt is stirring up enormous controversy because he is seeking an unprecedented third term.

HOROWITZ-GHAZI: So he calls his politically-savvy first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who's on vacation in upstate New York and asks her to go to the Democratic convention to help sway the delegates.

ANTHONY: She puts down her knitting, goes on a plane, even takes control of the plane for a while - something she'd always wanted to do - lands in Chicago with one sheet of notes, gets up to the podium and tells them that this is no ordinary time - a reference to the growing threat of fascism in Europe - and tells them they must pull together.




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