First ladies are dogged by questions about why someone who isn't elected or paid, or who isn't routinely handling serious domestic and global issues, has a staff at all. But first ladies do more than just choose china patterns and plan White House social functions.
Staff sizes may rise and fall depending on what projects are under way, as well as the number of people who may be temporarily reassigned from a department or agency to assist. Also, some first lady aides don't just work for her; they report to the president, too.
A look at some first ladies and their staff sizes:
_Michelle Obama: 24, according to her office.
_Laura Bush: Between 24 and 26 by end of President George W. Bush's term in 2009, according to Anita McBride, Mrs. Bush's chief of staff.
_Hillary Rodham Clinton: 13 in October 1993, rising to 19 by March 2000, according to the Clinton Presidential Library.
_Lady Bird Johnson, whose signature issue was beautifying roadways, had a staff of 30, said Stacy A. Cordery, a history professor at Montmouth College in Illinois who studies first ladies.
_Betty Ford had almost the same number.
_Jacqueline Kennedy, who made renovating the White House her cause, had about 40 people on staff, Cordery said.