Could President Clinton run for a third term?

On December 6 mailbag you correctly note
that Clinton cannot run for a third term.

But then you say:

>Now, there are always ways to find
>loopholes. For instance, the amendment
>doesn’t say anything about “serving” as
>president, only about being elected.
>So it seems nothing (except maybe
>the voters) would prevent Clinton from
>being elected as the vice president,
>and then serving out a term if the
>president resigns or dies (oooh, that
>oughta get the conspiracy nuts going).

Actually the Constitution would prevent
him from being VP as well.

“But no person constitutionally ineligible
for the office of President shall be
eligible to that of Vice-President of the
United States.”
- U.S. Constition, Amendment XII

Since as you note, Amendment XXII prevents
him from running for president, he cannot
become VP. Thus when Noon of January 20
of 2001 comes to the nation’s capitol,
we need not worry about having Bill
Clinton as president. :wink:


The original is at

We had a pretty spiffy go-round on this several weeks ago.
Clinton’s third term

And they battled it out over in General Questions as
Can Clinton be president again?

Briefly, you are (probably) correct about the VP (folks differed), but you have left out the hypothetical possibility that Clinton could be appointed Secretary of State or some other cabinet post (or, remotely even for a hypothetical, be elected Representative or Senator and become Speaker or President Pro Tem) and then succeed to the office in the case of a calamity that wiped out the president and all the higher ranking members of the administration.


Please, Tom, give him the correct condensation. :slight_smile:

By federal statute (mentioned in one of the threads), if he is ineligible to become VP, he would be ineligible to succede to the Presidency as anything else.

Thus, the issue remains solely as follows: is the succession of a Vice-President (or any other official) to President an ‘election’ such that the Twenty-second Amendment (or the relevant federal code section governing further levels of succession) prevent his becoming V-P (or succeding to President from another office)?

I hadn’t realized that everyone had come to agree to your point, DSY. I’mm perfectly willing to accept it, (although that is not how I would have read the Amendments or interpreted their results) simply because I find the likelihood to be remote.

Is it your opinion that Clinton could not be named Secretary of State? Or that having been appointed to that position, he would be passed over for the presidency if the Pres., VP, Speaker, and Pro Tem died in a single accident with more than two years left in the president’s term?


Under the law that governs Presidential succession in after the event that the President and Vice President are unavailable to serve (3 U.S.C. Sec. 19 ), there is a provision that states that the succession only applies “to such officers as are eligible to the office of President under the Constitution.”

In other words, Madeleine Albright, who is foriegn born and thus ineligible to serve as President, has every right to serve as Secretary of State. If the Pres, VP, Speaker and Pro Tem were all to die suddenly, Albright would not become President because she is ineligible. Rather Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers would become President.

Now, there is no restriction on who may be named Secretary of State, so Clinton could be appointed to that office in a future administration (or, for that matter, he could run for Congress and become Speaker of the House). However, if by virtue of his holding of such office he were to become next in line for the Presidency, DSYoung’s second question would come to the fore.

Works for me. (I must have missed the U. S. Code if it was in the other threads. Without it, I think the Constitutional provisions can be argued–as if that were a new thing.)


I’ve read something in a newspaper recently that speculated that after his term ends, Clinton might choose to run for Senator from Arkansas. That’s at least remotely plausible, I suppose. Otherwise what could he do except the things that the recent ex-Presidents have done? - give speeches, write books that no one reads, play in celebrity golf tournaments, help set up his Presidential Library, run charities, and turn into a vegetable. People who think that Clinton can somehow organize a conspiracy by which he could in some convoluted fashion become President again are the same sort of dopes who think that Clinton has killed 30 or 40 people who opposed him. Bill Clinton couldn’t run a conspiracy if his life depended on it. He can’t even get an intern to keep her mouth shut.

Thanks, Billdo, that was the point. :slight_smile: I wasn’t saying that my interpretation was right (indeed, Rick has valid, if in my opinion poorer reasoned :wink: , points as to why I might be wrong). But it’s either one or the other; no middle ground available. :slight_smile: