Did Michelle Obama just (sort of) endorse Hillary Clinton for 2016?

First lady Michelle Obama said this week that she'd like to see a woman hold the Oval Office 'as soon as possible' – and that she herself has no designs on it, or any other elected position. That kind of narrows the options.

Charles Dharapak/AP
First lady Michelle Obama speaks at The White House Summit on Working Families at a hotel in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The gathering, organized by the White House, Department of Labor, and the Center for American Progress, highlights the challenges and offers solutions faced by working families in America.

First lady Michelle Obama says it’s time for the United States to have a female president. Asked by ABC’s Robin Roberts at Monday's White House Summit on Working Families whether she foresees a woman in the Oval Office, Mrs. Obama said “that should happen as soon as possible.”

The wife of the first African-American chief executive of the US added that she believes the nation is ready to elect anyone who can do the job of running the country, whatever their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

“The person who should do the job is the person who’s the most qualified. And I think we have some options, don’t we?” said Obama, in a manner that implied she was talking about women.

The first lady herself will not be among these options. She said she has no plans to run for office. It did not sound as if she were being coy, either. Given that she’s shown no interest in any kind of elective position in the past, we’d tend to believe that she will not emulate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s career path.

After Barack leaves the White House, her next chapter “will not be political ... it will be mission-based, it will be service-focused,” said Michelle.

Does all this mean she’s endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016? It kind of sounds as if that’s the case, doesn’t it?

Possibly Mrs. Obama was referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts as the female presidential option in question, but given Mrs. Clinton’s overwhelming lead in the polls among Democrats, we doubt it. The first lady didn’t explicitly support only a woman for president or really give much of a thumbs-up here, but she can’t really, given that the official presidential election process hasn’t begun. We’re in the invisible primary stage, where candidates jockey behind the scenes for the support of key figures.

Yes, we know, there are many reports the Clintons and the Obamas do not really get along. But Michelle Obama will still end up endorsing and working for Clinton if she’s the nominee, so the first lady may already be preparing the way for that eventuality.

As for the strain of being a working mom with a husband in politics, Mrs. Obama retold a story about showing up for a job interview at the University of Chicago Hospital with Sasha in tow because she did not have a babysitter.

“I thought, look, this is who I am,” Obama told Ms. Roberts.

In essence she was telling the interviewer that employers had to value her family as well as herself. She got the job and it was a great experience, she said.

“I felt like I owed that hospital because they were supporting me,” said Obama.

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