Michelle Obama: U.S. should elect female president 'as soon as possible'

The U.S. should elect a female president "as soon as possible," first lady Michelle Obama said Monday.

"You know, I think this country is ready — this country is ready for anyone who can do that job," the first lady said while speaking at a working families summit in Washington.

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Obama said the country had learned a president didn't need to have a particular race, gender, or background.

"The person who should do the job is the person who is most qualified — and we have some options, don't we?" Obama said, drawing loud applause.

While the first lady's comments fell short of an endorsement, they're sure to be read as a a nod toward the Democratic presidential primary, where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is widely considered the frontrunner for the nomination.

The White House has steadfastly refused to wade into speculation about the 2016 presidential race, with Vice President Joe Biden also likely to compete for the nomination.

Last month, President Obama said Clinton would be a "very effective" president if she were to run — but also made a point to mention his vice president.

"I know that if she were to run for president, I think she'd be very effective at that," he during an appearance on "Live with Kelly and Michael." "I've been blessed to have some people around me like her, and Vice President Biden, and my chief of staff who are just great, hardworking effective people and I love them to death."

But the first lady says she knows one person who won't be on the ballot in 2016: herself.

Asked about her post-presidential plans, Obama said whatever she decided to do "definitely will not be" political in nature.

"It will be mission-based and it will be service focused," Obama said.