- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt kept the top spot in a new survey that ranks American first ladies — her fifth No. 1 ranking over the last 32 years — while Michelle Obama edged out Hillary Clinton to come in fifth.

Abigail Adams ranked second in the Siena College/C-SPAN survey, followed by Jacqueline Kennedy and then Dolley Madison.

Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Clinton followed at fifth and sixth, and Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Martha Washington and Rosalynn Carter rounded out the top 10.

The women were ranked based on various criteria, such as background, value to the country, leadership and “being her own woman.”

Siena College partnered with C-SPAN on its first ladies survey for the first time, because the cable network is featuring a yearlong series, “First Ladies: Influence and Image.”

When combined with Siena’s 2008 rankings of the presidents, the top “First Couple” would be Mrs. Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, followed by the Washingtons and the Roosevelts again — this time Edith and Theodore Roosevelt.

The survey also hinted at the political aspirations of one notable name in the list.

“Hillary Clinton is the clear choice of scholars as the First Lady they could most imagine serving as President garnering more than twice the support of Eleanor Roosevelt with Michelle Obama a distant third,” the survey said. “While no First Lady is a pull away leader in the category of ‘could have done more while in office’, Laura Bush is mentioned most often followed closely by Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, Bess Truman and Barbara Bush.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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