Former President Bill Clinton says he supports a new “rule” in dealing with limits to presidential governance. After individuals serve two terms, he says they should be able to serve a third — with a few caveats.
First and foremost, this regulation, should it be adopted, shouldn’t apply to anyone who has already served. Also, the former president would want the individual seeking a third round in the White House to take some time off after his or her second term.
Clinton was speaking to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he was promoting his new book, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.”
When co-host Joe Scarborough asked, “Shouldn’t a president be able to take two terms, take time off and run again? Shouldn’t Americans have that choice?,” Clinton answered affirmatively, saying:
“I’ve always thought that should be the rule. I think as a practical matter, you couldn’t apply this to anyone who has already served, but going forward, I personally believe that should be the rule.”
Watch his comments, below (comment about presidential terms around 18:30):
Clinton is no stranger to making this proposal. In 2010, he appeared on the same program and made very similar statements. Here’s some of the transcript from his past comments:
“That is, if I were writing the rules, I think there was a very strong argument for telling — for saying you shouldn’t serve three terms in a row…. People get relaxed, there’s too much opportunity for people — even if not for corruption — just for bad things happening for the taxpayers by the same crowd being in all the time. [...]
And if we change the constitution it shouldn’t apply to me. That is, it shouldn’t apply to anybody who served. It should be all forward-looking so no one would think it is personal. But that’s kind of what I think it should be.”
Here’s the video:
And in a 2009 debate with Bob Dole on CBS News, he said, “I think presidents should be limited to two consecutive terms, then after a time out of office should be able to run again.” Clearly, Clinton sees the current rules as a restriction on the rights of both candidates and the American people.
Of course, the two-term limitations can’t be lifted easily. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1951 following Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four consecutive terms in the 1930s and 1940s, would need to be rescinded or amended. Currently, the amendment reads:
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Changing this law, of course, is an extensive process that isn’t likely to happen in the near future. One wonders: How would such a proposal impact the political landscape? Furthermore, it would seem that, in light of the nation’s problems, tackling such a contentious issue won’t be on the agenda in the near future.
What do you think: Should presidents be able to run for three terms? Take our poll: