The invisible pregnancies of presidential daughters.

Science, technology, and life.
Sept. 2 2008 8:29 AM

Miss Conceptions

The invisible pregnancies of presidential daughters.

See Slate's complete  Republican National Convention coverage.

Sarah Palin. Click image to expand.
Sarah Palin

Is Sarah Palin the first nominee on a major-party presidential ticket whose daughter got pregnant out of wedlock? Or is she just the first whose daughter didn't get an abortion?

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right. Follow him on Twitter.

The reason you're reading about Bristol Palin's pregnancy  is that she's taking it to term. If she had aborted it, you'd never have known. Which raises the question: How many other daughters of nominees have gotten knocked up without your knowledge?


Let's make a list of unintended-pregnancy candidates going back to, say, 1964. To be conservative, let's draw a ceiling at age 30. That rules out Alexandra Kerry  and Rebecca Lieberman, who were 31 when their fathers ran, as well as Dick Cheney's  and Lloyd Bentsen's  daughters. And let's draw a floor at 17, Bristol Palin's age. That rules out Chelsea Clinton (who was 12  when her dad won), Amy Carter (who was 13  when her dad ran for re-election), and Corinne Quayle (who was 14 when her dad lost). Here's the pared-down list:


George W. Bush: Barbara and Jenna were 18  when he was elected.
George H. W. Bush: Doro was 21  when he ran for VP with Reagan.
Ronald Reagan: Patti was 24  when he ran in 1976 and was 28 when he won in 1980.
Gerald Ford: Susan was 17  when he became president and 19 when he ran for re-election.
Richard Nixon: Tricia was 22  and Julie was 20  when he won the presidency.
Lyndon Johnson: Lynda was 20  and Luci was 17  when he headed the ticket.

Vice Presidents

Al Gore: Karenna was 19  when he ran for VP; Kristin was 19 when he ran for re-election.
Walter Mondale: Eleanor was 16 when he ran for VP, 20 when he ran for re-election, and 24  when he ran for president.
Bob Dole: Robin was 22  when he ran for VP.
Spiro Agnew: Pamela was 25  and Susan was 20 when he ran.
Hubert Humphrey: Nancy was 25  when he ran for VP.

Presidential nominees

John Kerry: Vanessa was 27  when he ran. (Alexandra was 31.)
Michael Dukakis: Andrea was 22, and Kara was 20.
George McGovern: Ann was 27, Susan was 26, Terry was 23, and Mary was 17.
Barry Goldwater: Joanne was 28, and Peggy was 20.

Vice-presidential nominees