ABC News’ Ed O’Keefe Reports: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the United States is ready for a female president but resisted endorsing any of the sixteen White House contenders.
"Of course America is ready for a woman president," Blair said in an interview as a part of the First Lady’s Conference on Women in California. Ever diplomatic, Blair preceded this statement by reminding the crowd, "Let me say first, who you elect as president is up to you and not me."
The women’s conference, led by former NBC journalist Maria Shriver turned first lady of California, will feature five wives of presidential candidates in a discussion about their role in the 2008 campaign.
Elizabeth Edwards, Michelle Obama, Jeri Thompson, Cindy McCain, and Ann Romney will participate in the Shriver-moderated portion of the program. Several aspiring first ladies including Judith Giuliani and one first spouse (or ‘first laddie’ as he might prefer to be called) declined to attend.
Blair, who served ten years as Prime Minister, and developed a close working relationship with then-President Bill Clinton, also told New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who conducted the public interview, a story about the Thatcher era in Britain.
Blair recalled his "really strong conservative" father predicting, ‘There is no way the British people will elect Margaret Thatcher.’
Thatcher, a conservative, won reelection three times and is the only female prime minister in Britain’s history.
"People are less prejudiced than you ever think they areâ¦ irrespective of race, irrespective of gender, irrespective of everything else," Blair said of Thatcher’s success, still carefully treading what such a tale might mean for the U.S. presidential election.