As presidential primary debate questions go, this one was both a softball and a curveball: Which woman would you put on the $10 bill?
And none of the Republican candidates on stage last night (Sept. 16) at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, came up with a truly big hit.
These were their recommendations:
Susan B. Anthony
This one came courtesy of Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who perhaps feels a kinship with the influential leader of the US women’s suffrage movement given his own recent interest in voting rights. It’s not a terrible suggestion; it’s just not a particularly creative one. We might have expected more from a party maverick like Paul.
Mike Huckabee’s wife
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s suggestion might have been rather romantic, except that by law, only dead people can have their portraits on American banknotes.
This was Marco Rubio’s pick. The Florida senator described Parks as “an everyday American that changed the course of history.” Like Paul’s, it’s a solid suggestion, but not a new one.
Also in the civil rights icon’s corner: Texas senator Ted Cruz, only he’d put Parks on the $20—see you later, Andrew Jackson—and keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10. And you thought Cruz would never compromise.
Donald Trump mentioned Parks, but also suggested his daughter Ivanka, a fashion and jewelry entrepreneur. It’s admittedly a tough choice—or rather it would be if both were eligible. Ivanka, by virtue of being alive, is not.
Ben Carson’s mother
Again, people—only the dead are allowed on the currency, and Ben Carson’s mother is not dead. She has, however, been ill recently, so it is hard to begrudge Carson taking the question as his cue to pay tribute to mom.
There was a lot of Reagan talk at this debate, and perhaps this made former Florida governor Jeb Bush nostalgic for the former UK prime minister, a contemporary of Reagan’s. And if Hamilton, who served George Washington in the Revolutionary War before becoming America’s first treasury secretary, is going to lose his spot on the currency to a woman, why shouldn’t that woman be a Brit?
Ohio governor John Kasich sticks to his religious roots—but perhaps, like Bush, sacrifices something on the American patriotism front.
There’s a lot going for this suggestion from Wisconsin governor Scott Walker: In addition to being dead (and therefore eligible), the American Red Cross founder was, in fact, American.
For a minute there, it was unclear where New Jersey governor Chris Christie was going when he suggested the
Addams Adams family deserved more recognition than it gets.
He meant Abigail, wife of president John Adams, mother of president John Quincy Adams.
The only woman on the stage at last night’s debate was the only candidate not to name a nominee for the currency. “Women are not a special interest group,” former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said in her non-answer. “Women are the majority of this nation.”
One could hardly be expected to appreciate that, however, based on the all-male lineup of portraits that currently feature on US paper currency.