WASHINGTON — News that your only daughter is pregnant with your first grandchild would ordinarily be viewed simply as a wonderful, life-changing event — unless you're Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As the former secretary of state tries to decide whether to run for president again in 2016, Chelsea Clinton's announcement that she's expecting sometime this fall is being viewed as another piece in the guessing game about her mother's political future.
But is it fair play? Some political experts believe trying to tie Clinton's status as a grandmother-to-be to the decision to seek the White House reflects a double standard because such family news wouldn't be discussed if, say, former Florida governor Jeb Bush were about to become a grandfather again.
"We wouldn't be thinking about this for a male candidate who is in the mix," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
"Men who run for president become grandparents all the time," she said. "Their family situations as grandfathers would not make news and would not be considered an issue."
Greta Van Susteren, who hosts her own show on Fox News, posted Friday on her blog about the double standard she's seeing. "I have never heard that grandparent speculation when it comes to a grandfather," she wrote, as she asked readers to weigh in.
Traditionally, the topic of how family factors into deciding whether to run for political office comes up if children are young.
In Clinton's case, she is going to become the grandmother — not the parent. Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, suggested the discussion of how a child would impact Clinton's decision about 2016 would be different only if she or Bill Clinton were to become the baby's primary caretaker.
"This is a woman who has had very public roles when she had a young child herself," Lawless said. "To think the mere presence of a grandchild would shape her political ambitions is naïve."
The Clintons, ever since Chelsea Clinton got married in 2010, have not been shy about saying they'd love to become grandparents. The former president told the Davos Forum in 2011 that his wife wants to be a grandmother "more than she wanted to be president."
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who is among those urging Clinton to run, said on Twitter that a grandchild is a "powerful reason to run for president: to make the world better for that child."
Hillary Clinton has already had lots of experiences — whether as a lawyer, first lady, U.S. senator or the nation's top diplomat — that would contribute to her decision-making about a campaign. Becoming a grandmother shouldn't take on any greater importance than other factors in her life.
"Everything is about the clue to the big decision whether she will or won't run," Walsh said, whether the news is about where Clinton is speaking, how she looks, or what she ate for lunch. The baby news "really ratchets up the conjecture and will continue to the day she announces."
Alongside her mother Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton announced that she is pregnant with her first child with husband Marc Mezvinsky. VPC