Q&A: Could Bill Clinton run for the vice presidency?

If former President Bill Clinton became a vice presidential candidate, the case would likely go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Associated Press

If former President Bill Clinton became a vice presidential candidate, the case would likely go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Could Bill Clinton run for the vice presidency?

Can a former president become a vice president, after serving one or two terms?

This question would have been more timely with Hillary Rodham Clinton still in the race and her husband Bill, the 42nd president of the United States, still attracting attention. But it's interesting, if only because no one is quite sure what the answer is.

Those on the yes side point to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1804. It says anyone who is eligible for the presidency — that would be any natural-born U.S. citizen over the age of 35 who has lived in the country the preceding 14 years — is eligible for the vice presidency. Bill Clinton clearly meets both those qualifications.

However, the 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, says in part: "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."

Some experts think the 22nd only bars the election of a president to more than two terms in office, and that does not prevent Clinton from the vice presidency.

Others say the 12th says no one can become vice president if they are ineligible to become president, and that Clinton would be ineligible because of the 22nd Amendment.

To further muddle matters, there are two other ways a former president could legally become vice president or president.

The 25th Amendment says that if the vice presidency is vacated, a president can appoint a replacement. And if a former president became speaker of the House, he or she would be third in the line of succession to the presidency.

This much seems certain: If any former president came up for the second position on either party's ticket, the case would surely land at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision.

Reagan and the solar panels

Is it true that when Jimmy Carter was president, he had working solar panels installed on the top of the White House? Did Ronald Reagan remove them?

Yes and yes. In June 1979, President Jimmy Carter proposed a "new solar strategy" to "move our nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available energy supplies." To set an example, Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House West Wing. The panels were used to heat water for the staff mess and other areas of the White House.

President Reagan had the solar panels removed in 1986 when the White House roof was being repaired. Last year, one of the White House solar panels went on display at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

Q&A: Could Bill Clinton run for the vice presidency? 06/26/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 1:22pm]

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