She says she won't do it. Never mind that. After Michelle Obama's dynamic address to the Democratic National Convention Monday night, journalists instantly pondered whether the first lady will run for president some day.
If Michelle Obama follows the Hillary Clinton template ... she'll be the Dem nominee for president in 2032. #DNCinPhilly
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) July 26, 2016
Michelle Obama can run for president. Is there a Senate seat for her to seek in 2018? #DNCinPHL
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) July 26, 2016
so she's running
— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) July 26, 2016
Michelle Obama takes the stage, Michelle signs fill floor, someone whispers "hope she's announcing running in 2020" pic.twitter.com/y4s5S2R08s
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) July 26, 2016
Now's the part of the program where many voters at home wish Michelle Obama were running for president instead of Clinton and Trump.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 26, 2016
This is just magnificent. If she's not careful, they're going to nominate her. #DNCinPHL
— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) July 26, 2016
Let's briefly review what Obama herself has said about her White House ambitions.
"I will not run for president," she said at South by Southwest in March. "No, nope, not going to do it."
Okay, but watching Hillary Clinton go from first lady to presumptive presidential nominee must make Obama think about doing the same thing, right?
"Hillary Clinton is an impressive woman, and I will not do what she has done," Obama told a teenage questioner during a White House event in April. "I will not run for president."
Hmm. Well, maybe President Obama will encourage his wife to reconsider.
"No, no," he said at a town hall event in Louisiana in January. "No, no, no. No, no. Let me tell ya, there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and Michelle is not running for president. That, I can tell you."
All right, the first couple has been consistent and forceful in trying to shut down the notion that Michelle Obama will seek the presidency. But political figures can change their minds on these things. Remember when there was absolutely no way Marco Rubio would run for another term in the Senate after losing the Republican presidential primary? Didn't last.
It's always no, until it's yes.
Michelle Obama will be just 53 when her husband leaves office in January. And she hasn't ruled out a future in politics, period. Here's a not-entirely-crazy scenario: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) retires in four years, at the end of his term, at 76. (Here at The Fix, we thought he might hang it up last time.) In 2020, Michelle Obama will have had a four-year break, both kids will be out of the house, and she'll be ready to re-enter the fray. By 2028, second-term Sen. Michelle Obama, 64, will have higher aspirations and will attempt to become the nation's third straight female president, following Hillary Clinton and Ivanka Trump, whom she will try to unseat.
It could happen. It almost certainly won't. But the point is Michelle Obama's insistence that she won't run for president isn't nearly enough to stop the media speculation after a rousing speech.