11 Candidates Were Asked To Name A Great American Woman (They Got 4)

Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo.
Last night, the Republican presidential candidates were asked which woman they would choose to put on a redesigned $10 bill. It was supposed to be a fun, easy question, coming at the lightning-round section at the end of the debate, (right after candidates picked Secret Service code names). And yet, while the answers were well intended, they revealed that a lot of these guys could brush up on their women's history. Here's what they said. First to answer the question was Mike Huckabee, who suggested we put his wife on the bill. This would be a cute answer if Huckabee — a candidate with a history of not-so-awesome statements about women — hadn't ended his statement with a zinger. "That way, she could spend her own money!" (You know, instead of spending his! Ladies, amirite?) A bunch of other candidates named family members — Dr. Carson calling out his mom, Trump calling out his daughter — which, again, seemed sweet. And also, maybe like they couldn't think of the names of any women who weren't related to them. Senator Rubio named Rosa Parks, who is a great American and probably the perfect answer. For this, we applaud him. But, the answer seemed less inspired when it was repeated...twice, by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Again, not that she's a bad answer, but it would have been better if they'd said, "Oh, I was going to say Rosa Parks, but since Senator Rubio did, here are some other amazing civil rights heroes." In the same vein were Jeb Bush and Governor Kasich, who suggested Margaret Thatcher and Mother Teresa, respectively. Giving the names of famous women who aren't American is basically the same as your way-too-confident nephew saying "Fellini" when you ask his favorite American director. The underlying message is clear: "I don't know much about the category in question." There were three other more American women thrown into the mix: Chris Christie suggested Abigail Adams, but not before reminding everyone how awesome her husband was; Scott Walker named Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross, and Rand Paul gave Susan B. Anthony — not incredibly original as far as women on currency goes. Carly Fiorina, the only woman on stage, threw the biggest curveball, saying she didn't want a redesign. "I wouldn't change the $10 bill, or the $20 bill. I think, honestly, it's a gesture. I don't think it helps to change our history," the former HP CEO said. "What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group. Women are the majority of this nation. We are half the potential of this nation, and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she chooses." Final tally? Eleven candidates were asked to name a great American woman. Not counting family members, duplicates, and ineligible non-Americans, they managed to mention four.

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