Who will be the first female U.S. President?

The United States, the world’s leading democracy has never had a woman President. This is somewhat surprising, given that many other foreign nations have had women heads of state, including Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and Brazil.

Many people thought Hillary Clinton had a good chance to become the first female president in U.S. history -- an achievement that likely would have granted her immortality. However, her inability to gain the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 likely doomed her chances for the White House (Barack Obama will run again in 2012, making it almost impossible for Clinton to ever consider running for the top job).

By 2016, Clinton will be 69 years old – not ancient, by presidential standards. In the unlikely event she seeks the nomination again; she has millions of enthusiastic supporters who would probably embrace the idea.

Still, the first woman president may actually come from the Republican Party, where a number of female politicians are raising their profile and might make a run in the next few national elections.

Here are some potential ”candidates” for the role of first US woman president:

Hillary Clinton (my personal favorite) 

The current Secretary of State has said she will not remain in the position in 2012 even if President Obama is re-elected. Hillary Clinton, despite being disliked by many conservatives and others, is probably the most famous woman on earth and she should never be counted out. She has millions of rabid admirers and supporters – in the event she ever decided to run for president, it would not be taken lightly.

Sarah Palin

The Republican Vice President candidate in 2008 has soared to the top in terms of political notoriety and familiarity with the public. Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, is beloved by the right-wing arm of the Republican Party, but reviled by some of the moderate members of the GOP and by many liberal Democrats. However, it would seem that among Republican women, she has a better chance than any to become President. Palin is only 47 years old now; should she fail to gain the nomination in 2012, she will have several more election cycles to put her hat in the ring.

Michele Bachmann

The Republican Minnesota congresswoman has dropped hints that she may run for president in 2012. The highly controversial Bachman is beloved by the Tea Party set, but would face serious challenges from even within her own party. Bachman, at age 55, has a moderate window of opportunity. It will also be interesting to see if she views Sarah Palin as an ally or a rival.

Nikki Haley

The Republican Governor of South Carolina is a rising star within the GOP, and she carries extraordinary charisma, glamour and star-power potential. Should see ever run for president (and win) she would become not only the first woman chief executive, but also the first of East Indian descent.
However, at age 39, she has several decades to pursue her ambitions for higher office and would have to first build up a stronger foundation of legislative experience.

Michelle Obama

Some have speculated that the president’s wife would herself make a good presidential candidate (after all, Hillary Clinton was a First Lady who entertained dreams of higher office, despite having never held an elected office). Still, Mrs. Obama’s candidacy would be the longest of long shots.

Condoleezza Rice

The former Secretary of State under George W. Bush has also been mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate, although she has publicly denied any such interest on her part. Currently working as a political science professor at Stanford University, Rice has many admirers within the Republican Party and has been lauded for her foreign policy experience.