President Obama was not endorsing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination when he commented Tuesday that a woman can be elected president of the United States, a White House spokesman said.
"I want [visitors] to be astonished that there was ever a time when ... a woman had never sat in the Oval Office," Obama said Tuesday in celebrating a historic home dedicated to celebrating women's suffrage, which has been declared a national monument.
"I think the president was leaning into the idea of a value statement," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "That the United States is a country where people who work hard and are willing to play by the rules are not going to be limited by their last name or what they look like or their religion, or even their gender."
Whether Clinton or someone else wins, there is a "practical reality" in America now that a woman can win the White House, Earnest said. Obama was celebrating the first major step toward that reality, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, in honoring the suffragettes who passed through the Sewall-Belmont House near Capitol Hill over the years.
America as the land of opportunity "certainly applies to this scenario when women are competing for the highest elected office in the land, that they should be evaluated based on their ideas and their values and their agenda," Earnest said. "And that's the kind of country I think that we all aspire to. And that's certainly is the value that the president is giving voice to today."