Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vice President Bill Clinton?

News commentators have been speculating about the possibility of former President Bill Clinton becoming the "First Gentleman" (First Spouse, maybe?) if and when Senator Hillary Clinton is elected President of the United States in November of 2008. That got me to thinking: Why not Vice President Bill Clinton in 2008? Many people would vote for a wife and husband Clinton ticket, whereas Article Two of the United States Constituon as well as the Twelfth, Twentieth, Twenty-second, and Twenty-fifth Amendments are silent on the issue, although some would argue otherwise.

While Bill Clinton cannot be elected to a third term as President, there is nothing prohibiting him from serving as President or serving as Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, or any of the other positions that would put him a hearbeat away from the presidency. To wit, upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of the sitting President, Vice President Bill Clinton would be sworn in. Moreoover, if the President-elect were to die before being sworn in, Vice President-elect Bill Clinton would become President on Inauguration Day.

The Twelfth Amendment states, in pertinent part, that "no person constitutionally ineligible to the Office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." However, when the Twelfth Amendment was ratified, Presidents were not subject to term limits, and they did not have vice-presidential running mates. According to the original provisions of Article Two, the only way to become elected Vice President was to run for President and come in second place. Running mates were an invention of the Electoral College that grew out of the Twelfth Amendment's requirements that separate votes be cast for President and Vice President by the members of the college.

After Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented four terms as President, the Twenty-second Amendment was ratified, providing that "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 the President more than once." As recently as 1964, there was talk of then former President Dwight D. Eisenhower running for Vice President as Barry Goldwater's Republican running mate after Eisenhower had already been elected twice to the presidency. And then in 2004, some people suggested that John Kerry might ask Bill Clinton to be his running mate. Stranger things have happened.


Anonymous Paul W. Hanson said...

The assertion that there were no running mates until after the ratification of the 12th amendment is incorrect. Aaron Burr was Thomas Jefferson's running mate. When he tied Jefferson in the electoral college tally his refusal to defer to Jefferson (the Republicans selected Burr as their Vice-Presidential candidate) created the constitutional crisis that eventuated in the passage of the 12th amendment.

The real question is what was the orginal intent of the 1947 Congress that passed the amendment? Lacking evidence that they carefully crafted the amendment to allow an ex-President to run for VP after his eligibility to run for President had expired, the obvious meaning of the amendment must be adhered to. The obvious intent is to limit the period of time one person can serve as President. So then Bill Clinton would have to be held ineligible to the office of President and thus ineligible to the office of Vice President also.

5:28 PM, August 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Bill Clinton is a possible running mate for Hillary; and to me the OBVIOUS choice. So they have some baggage together that will be brought out by the opposition party. That same baggage will surface for Hillary no matter what, so, might as well pool their popularity. If they run together, I see few republican tickets that can beat them; unless Collin Powell comes out of the woodwork. He and Michael Bloomberg might make a good team, but, the clock is ticking.

5:56 AM, November 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point is well taken, but, I am thinking that he could be elected VP and should something happen to the President, Bill would not be eligible for that post. The Speaker of the House, President pro tempore, et al, would be the replacement.

So then the question, why would Bill Clinton run for VP at all ? - To have a winning ticket.

6:10 AM, November 28, 2007  
Blogger Jeremy said...

It's an interesting thought, but strategically it makes a ton more sense for Hillary to have a running mate like Bill Richardson or John Edwards, someone who can appeal to the people she's not appealing to.

11:18 PM, January 14, 2008  
Anonymous Jim said...

In regards to Jermey's comment that it would make more sense as well as being a more powerful ticket if she chose a running mate other than ol Bill. My comment/question/thought is do we know that Bill won't bring to the ticket public/politial power not encompassed by his wife? I don't think that is the case. Bill has a distinct track record that some think is excellent. Least us not forget that Bill is a sharp cookie. I can't help but think about the implications of possibly having the first woman president, the first husband and wife executive team, and the first instance of a former president acting in the role as VP. Personally I think this was their plan all along. I will be fun to see how this years election plays out. Yes? I think it is much better than having the supreme court decide who the president of the US will be. Jim

7:51 AM, April 29, 2008  

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