Could Bill Clinton Run As Vice President?

Just wondering…not that he has suggested it or that he would even want to, but could he run as Vice President in the next election?

I know the rule is you cannot run for President for a third term, but assuming he ran as Vice President, and even if the President were to die and he took over, technically he would not have been elected to the post for a third term.

I’m pretty sure the answer is ‘yes’…he can accept a VP nomination and serve as VP. It gets sticky though if whoever is President gets wacked or otherwise leaves office while Billy boy is VP (IIRC). I’m unsure WHAT happens then.


Earlier threads that have addressed (and pretty much exhausted) this topic:

Presedential [sic] Loophole

Max no of years as President?

American President and terms in office

Could Kerry choose Clinton as a running mate

Could Clinton become VP?

The 12th amendment says that “no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” Since former President Clinton is ineligible for reelection as president, arguably he is therefore ineligible for election as vice president. But the answer is not as clear-cut as the 12th amendment suggests. I can see three possible views:

  1. A twice-elected president is ineligible for the vice-presidency under any circumstances. The 22nd amendment makes him or her ineligible for election as president, so the 12th amendment makes him or her ineligible for election as vice-president. The 25th amendment, the only other route to the vice-presidency, is silent about eligibility but implicitly imports the eligibility requirements from the 12th and 22nd amendments. (To put it another way, the 22nd amendment means that being re-elected as president exhausts one’s eligibility, not only for purposes of election but for all purposes.)

  2. A twice-elected president is ineligible for the vice-presidency by election, but not necessarily by way of the 25th amendment. The 12th amendment’s eligibility clause does import the 22nd amendment’s limit on electability, but the 25th amendment does not involve an election, so a twice-elected former president can become vice-president if the incumbent president nominates and both houses of Congress confirm him or her.

  3. A twice-elected president is eligible for the vice-presidency under any circumstances. The 22nd amendment’s literal terms apply only to election as president, not to election as vice-president or to succession to the presidency.

Views 3 and 2 are more literal (that is, more textually defensible) than View 1, but Views 1 and 2 make more sense than View 3 in light of the 22nd amendment. The amendment says only that “no person shall be elected,” but surely its intent was to keep a demagogue (or any individual, for that matter) from monopolizing the executive branch indefinitely. If a twice-elected president is eligible for election as vice-president, and is then eligible for succession to the presidency, what would stop a popular term-limited president from running for vice-president on a ticket with a figurehead who will take office then immediately step aside? The constitutional gymnastics are a little more complicated, but the same policy question can arise in the case of a twice-elected president chosen as vice-president under the 25th amendment.

A statutory succession to the presidency under the Presidential Succession Act raises substantially the same issues, since the Act’s provisions “apply only to such officers as are eligible to the office of President under the Constitution.” 3 U.S.C. § 19(e). Interestingly, there was a book written about thirty years ago – Line of Succession by Brian Garfield – that deals with some of these issues. The vice-president and speaker are killed in a terrorist attack, the president-elect is kidnapped then killed, and the president pro tem is politically unacceptable to both political parties, so the defeated outgoing president schemes to amend the Succession Act so that he can stay in office. The book sidesteps the 22nd-amendment issue, though, because the outgoing president has served only one term.

Short of a constitutional amendment, I suppose that there can be no definitive answer until somebody tries it.

Wow, brianmelendez, thank you! I tried a search (obviously badly) and didn’t find anything!

So a Hillary and Bill candidacy may or may not be possible, depending on interpretation. Like I said, I was just wondering if it were possible.

Plus the President and the Vice President must be from different states. Bill Clinton is now a resident of New York state and Hillary Clinton is a Senator from New York.

That’s not true either. They don’t have to be from different states.

Each elector of the Electoral College casts two votes - one for president and one for vice president. At least one of those must be from a state that the elector does not belong to. Therefore, if a Presdient and VP candidate from the same state ran, then the electors of that state could not vote for them.

However, if a party figured a state was lost anyway and was willing to give the votes away, they could easily run two candidates from the same state. There is nothing illegal about it.

Zev Steinhardt

One can also change one’s residency. Dick Cheney was a Texas resident until his nomination as VP, when he changed his residency to Wyoming.

Is there some conservative newspaper columnist or TV or radio commentator or some conservative website that has a habit of claiming that Bill Clinton is going to be nominated as Vice-President in the next election? This question comes up every couple of months or so and I’d like to know why. In my entire life I don’t remember a rumor like this about any other former President. I’ve got to suspect that there is some conservative rumor mill that has decided that it would be useful to re-introduce this rumor every couple months to keep the conservative regulars constantly riled up about something.

During the 1968 campaign, there were mainstream columnists saying that Dwight Eisenhower should have been Nixon’s running mate. In hindsight, that would have been a very bad idea.

There were plenty of rumors that Reagan was going to have Gerald Ford as his running mate in 1980.

However, Ford had served only one term as president. Actually part of one term, but it was more than half so it counted for one.

There were rumors in 1988 that Bush would run with Reagan as VP, then resign immediately after the election.

Of course he could run for president, heck , Fidel Castro or one of the Olson Twins could run for President. Now that can’t actually BE president, but they could run.
</smat alec>

Serious question: Can someone not eligiable to be president be on the ballot? I’m guessing when you register to be on the ballot you have to prove eleigiablity.
(over 35, natual born citizen, etc)


For whatever it’s worth, Bill Clinton said in 2004 that he would not be eligible to run for VP under a reasonable reading of the Constitution.

No one has answered this question yet:

> Is there some conservative newspaper columnist or TV or radio commentator or
> some conservative website that has a habit of claiming that Bill Clinton is going
> to be nominated as Vice-President in the next election?

I still want to know why this subject keeps coming up.

I’ve seen commentary about this before, but I don’t remember where. It doesn’t seem like I’ve ever seen it in a reliable place.

Though Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to run as vice president (as others have pointed out,) it seems logical to me that people talk about him as a potential repeat on a ballot where other presidents don’t seem to have gotten the same treatment. There wasn’t talk about George H.W. Bush or Jimmy Carter showing up as a potential running mate, even though they were and still are eligible, because they lost reëlection and both had a taint about them because of this. Reagan was not eligible, sure, but there was also Alzheimer’s. He wouldn’t have shown up on anyone’s ticket until 1996 at the earliest, and by then he wasn’t even making public appearances anymore. Nixon was ineligible and radioactive after 1974, and Johnson was still eligible though radioactive in 1972.

The 1968 Nixon/Eisenhower rumor surprises me, but I guess it makes sense. If Eisenhower was still going after his 1956 heart attack, he’ll surely never die. I remember the rumors about Ford maybe running in the 1980 primary, which was believable. I don’t remember talk about a Reagan/Ford ticket, but then I was eleven at the time, so I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I could see how such rumors could come about.

My father is convinced that Bill Clinton is allowed to run for president again, and that the Constitution only bans you from serving more than two consecutive terms. I’ve tried, but I can’t convince him otherwise. I know that’s the way that South Dakota gubernatorial elections work, but not the presidency. Bill Clinton can’t ever show up on another presidential ticket; neither can George W. Bush. But that doesn’t mean we won’t hear rumors about the inevitable Jeb/Dubya ticket in 2012. You heard it here first…

Here is a site which discusses the Reagan/Ford potential ticket in 1980.

As far as Clinton goes, a lot of the Y2k alarmists were saying that Clinton would use Y2k as an excuse to declare martial law and remain President.

Chance, you seem to assume that you know the answer to this question, when, as brian set out, there is no definitive answer until someone tries it.

Also, you’re wrong. :wink:


Thanks for the Reagan/Ford link. That was interesting, and from a political strategy point of view, it makes a lot of sense. I can understand why Ford wouldn’t want to do it, though; he wasn’t exactly a Reagan Republican.

I remember the Clinton-and-martial law nonsense around the Y2K business. The same came up after September 11; there was no end of speculation that Bush would alter the Constitution to stay in office. Of course, they were saying that even before Y2K even came about. I remember nuts talking about Clinton mending the Constitution by fiat even before he was reëlected.

There was probably similar talk when Reagan was in office. I seem to remember that Reagan (the second president to leave office due to imposed term limits) once mused that he wished he’d never favored the 22nd Amendment in the first place, but I can’t find a cite for that. Anyway, the Constitution isn’t amended by executive fiat, anyway—but that doesn’t make for good talk radio.

Wrong? Me? I’ve never been wrong, and that’s documented. (For a cite, please see the immediately preceding sentence.)

Seriously, I could have sworn that somewhere in my reading and rereading of the Constitution that I ran across something that says you can’t be vice president if you’re ineligible to be president, and that that would include former presidents who have served at least three quarters of two terms, but I can’t find anything to back that up right now. Looking over the 22nd and 25th Amendments, nothing supports this. Sure, it would be politically difficult to get a former president onto a ticket, and difficult to appoint one as vice president in the middle of a term, so I doubt anyone would try it—but it doesn’t seem to be impossible.

I’ll look over this later, when I have more time, and post my argument. But this isn’t a Great Debates thread, so maybe it would only be appropriate to start another thread about it, or at least revive one of the other ones. This might be an interesting time to do it, since there’s little chance of the current president pulling a former president into his vice president slot even if that vacancy comes open, and with the 2008 election season a whole fifteen months or so away from beginning, there would (probably) be less in the way of passions running high right now. At least, not on my part. I can’t think of anyone who’s been president and who is still alive whom I’d want to see in the Oval Office, either as the chief executive or the vice president. That’s probably not true of everyone, though…