Even though a 2016 presidential victory by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is a long shot, there's been much speculation over one aspect of his bid. Who would be FLOTUS if Lindsey Graham became president, considering his bachelorhood? The single Graham has finally laid all rumors to rest. The Daily Mail reported that Graham volunteered his younger sister Darline Graham Nordone for the much exalted role of first lady in the event of a Graham presidency.
But there's one slight hitch. Nordone currently resides in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters and serves as public information director for the state's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, according to The Washington Post. In other words, Graham's sister is a busy woman, and being first lady doesn't exactly amount to a side hustle, as current FLOTUS Michelle Obama can probably attest to. But Graham has a contingency plan.
"I've got a lot of friends. We'll have a rotating first lady," Graham told the Daily Mail, chuckling.
As amusing as a roving roster of first ladies sounded to Graham, there has been some historical precedent. James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland were both unmarried when they took over the West Wing. In the event that a first lady is unavailable or unwilling to carry out the duties of the position, a non-spousal relative has usually taken over the duties. According to the National First Ladies Library, there's been roughly two dozen First Ladies who had family ties to the president instead of marital ones, including daughters, daughters-in-laws, sisters, and aunts, as well as a niece and cousin.
That being said, what we do know about Nordone is that she is the closest woman in the senator's life who has emerged in the public eye. The bond between the two siblings is an uncommon one; Graham was an undergraduate in college and Nordone was only 13 years old when both of their parents died within months of each other, according to the Post. Nordone has been featured in her older brother's campaign ads for Senate, according to Columbia, South Carolina, newspaper The State. In one ad, Nordone recounts how her older brother helped raise her, even though he was still a 21-year-old sophomore at the University of South Carolina at the time. Graham helped Nordone move into their aunt and uncle's home, and came to visit during the weekends.
“It was hard when we lost my mom and my dad," Nordone said in the commercial. "Lindsey assured me that he was going to take care of me and he was going to be there for me. He never let me down. Never. I don’t see how he did it, to take on the responsibility of raising a little sister. That came from within for Lindsey.”
As for the other women in Graham's life? Since the FLOTUS role usually goes to a female relative, as opposed to a friend, it would be more likely that if Nordone wasn't up for it, the responsibility would fall upon one of Graham's nieces. Nordone has two daughters, Emily and Nicole, both of whom were profiled in an epic moment when Joe Biden (jokingly) refuses to swear Graham in at the 2015 Senate swearing in ceremony. When it's Graham's turn in line, the vice-president proclaims in a serious tone, "I'm not doing the next one!" Graham takes it in stride, good-naturedly joking "Yes, you are, it's part of the job!", and greeting Biden with a handshake. Graham gets his revenge later when introducing his six-year-old niece, Nicole, to Biden, and informing her that the vice-president was a pretty nice man, even though "he is a Democrat."
The meet-and-greet was rife with under-handed awkwardness.
"We have something in common," Biden tells Graham. "We have sisters that are brighter and better looking than we are."
Biden charm or no, given how calm and collected Nordone acted during such a potentially embarrassing exchange, it's pretty easy to see why Graham would want his sister to play the role of FLOTUS, as her schedule allows.
Images: Senator Lindsey Graham, YouTube (1)