Donald Trump hailed a string of women who have helped shape America's history on Wednesday, but his praise of Susan B. Anthony provoked ridicule on social media.
Addressing a women’s empowerment event in the final days of Women’s History Month, the US president hailed the role of women in politics.
“My cabinet is full of really incredible women leaders,” Mr Trump said.
“Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?” Trump jokes at a women’s empowerment event at the White House pic.twitter.com/lhOljPGZj6— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 29, 2017
The president's cabinet includes six women out of 24 positions and is on course to have a smaller percentage of women and nonwhites than the first cabinets of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush.
“Since the very beginning, women have driven, and I mean, each generation of Americans, towards a more free and more prosperous future,” Mr Trump said.
Listing such influential women as Abigail Adams and Harriet Tubman, he said: "We’ve had leaders like Susan B. Anthony. Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony? I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her - who dreamed of a much more fair and equal future and an America where women themselves as she said helped to make laws and elect the lawmakers, and that’s what’s happening more and more."
His comment that he was shocked that a room full of women had heard of the 19th Century pioneer who paved the way for women’s suffrage was mocked by social media users, including Chelsea Clinton.
Do you think Trump knows Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass were friends? Worked together on universal suffrage? (Knows who they were?) https://t.co/fY5Zi171wO— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 29, 2017
Trump code: "Have you heard…?" and "A lot of people don't know…" = "I just found out" https://t.co/1D4ZybMdFn— Claire Phipps (@Claire_Phipps) March 29, 2017
"Mr. President, tell us what you most admire about Susan B. Anthony?"— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) March 29, 2017
"I'm not sure. Terrific woman. Her son, Carmelo, is quite the baller." https://t.co/EeNEnWTm01
“Suffragettes were women that suffered bigly. Suffered terribly. Suffering is terrible.” https://t.co/nqdDLc7n8t— Data&Politics �� (@dataandpolitics) March 29, 2017
Some, however, defended the president, saying he was joking when he made the comment.
Re: Trump's Susan B Anthony comment. Chill. He was being sarcastic. pic.twitter.com/3aH4t4yln3— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 29, 2017
WSJ reporter fails to report Trump smiled & said "I'm shocked you've heard of her" immediately afterwards and was clearly joking https://t.co/cIRw8DdmH8— Steve Lookner (@lookner) March 29, 2017
To his credit, @davidmackau is being reasonable. There are plenty of reasons to judge Trump, and his comment here isn't one of them.— Julia (@JulesPaste) March 29, 2017
Trump may've been "joking" abt whether women have heard of SBA, but he wasn't joking in saying woman are involved in politics "more & more." https://t.co/Kp5xtfRrT6— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) March 29, 2017
The president also introduced his wife Melania, a former model, at the event as a "very highly accomplished woman."
He mentioned that her poll numbers are higher than his, and also said she "feels so strongly about" empowering women.
Mrs Trump earlier helped present State Department awards to 13 women from around the globe who were recognised for demonstrating courage and leadership in the face of adversity, a group she praised as "true heroes."
The first lady's participation in the award ceremony amounted to a rare public appearance for her in Washington, outside of the White House. She hosted a White House luncheon for International Women's Day earlier this month.