Voting for who the vice president might be is just as important as voting for the presidential candidate.
That’s because if the president ever dies, then the vice president must fill in and become the new president.
Because the vice president can become the president, it leads some to wonder if a former president can become a vice president for someone else.
Here’s what you need to know about whether a former president can run as someone’s vice president or not.
Can A Former President Be Vice President?
No, a former president cannot be a vice president.
Two laws prevent this from happening.
The 22nd Constitution Amendment states that a president cannot serve for longer than two terms.
The 12th Amendment states that an individual cannot run for the vice presidency if they are not eligible to be president.
That’s because they’d become president if the sitting president died.
Since they’re ineligible for the role, they’re unable to become the vice president.
When Joe Biden was campaigning to become president, many wondered if Barack Obama might be his vice president.
He would not have been able to do so because Obama already served two terms as president.
Since he is ineligible to serve again, he cannot become president.
Since he’s not eligible to be president again, he cannot be a vice president.
However, if a president only served a single term, then he can serve as someone else’s vice president.
That’s because he only served one term and not two terms.
He or she only served a single term and is still eligible for a second term.
If the sitting president should die, then the vice president isn’t breaking the law by becoming the president.
It would count as their second term in office.
Why Does The 22nd Constitutional Amendment Exist?
The 22nd Constitution came about after President Franklin D. Roosevelt held a long term in office, serving three full terms of four years each and being elected to a fourth term.
He passed away not long after his fourth inauguration, however, making his vice president, Harry S. Truman, president.
Before FDR, most presidents had voluntarily stopped running after two terms.
Only two presidents ever tried to run for a third term in office before FDR.
The first was Ulysses S. Grant.
Although he attempted to run for a third term, his party ultimately decided to throw their support behind someone else.
The second was Theodore Roosevelt.
He actually ran for a third term, but he didn’t win the vote in the election.
Besides those two presidents, all the other presidents in the past only served for two terms.
That’s because George Washington set the limit in practice if not in law.
He served for two terms as president after the country won its independence from Britain.
After that, the subsequent presidents followed his example.
There was never anything written in the Constitution that prevented presidents from serving more than two terms.
Even Alexander Hamilton suggested that there shouldn’t be a set limit on terms.
He suggested that a president should remain in office for as long as the people had faith in them.
When they lost that faith or confidence in the president, then it was time to hold a new election.
Hamilton’s thinking was likely that the other branches of the government would be enough to stop or curtail any attempts on the president’s behalf to increase their power.
He also believed in the power of the people to hold their president responsible should he or she go against public opinion.
FDR, however, found himself in a unique situation in which he believed that he needed to continue to serve as president to bring the country out of a dark time.
His presidency started during the Great Depression.
The country was starving, and it was difficult for families to make ends meet.
He introduced several programs designed to stimulate the economy and keep the country from collapsing.
His two initial terms centered on repairing the country and boosting its economy.
Then World War II started.
While he tried to play the isolationist card, America would inevitably find itself dragged into the war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
FDR had no choice but to go to war.
The war lasted longer than anyone imagined.
Even after four years, the US was still involved in it.
To see it through, the people elected FDR again for a third term.
They likely did so because the second World War was an intense one that the entire country took part in one way or another.
Bringing in someone else during the middle of it was too risky.
After his fourth election to office, FDR’s opposing party wanted to ensure that never happened again.
They wrote the 22nd Amendment and the sitting president at the time, Harry S. Truman, supported it.
They ratified the law, and it set an official term limit for the office of President of the United States.
In this way, they also stopped a potential return to monarchy in which a single ruler would preside over the government for an unlimited time.
Why Does The 12th Constitutional Amendment Exist?
The 12th Amendment came in response to a problem the government encountered during the presidential election of 1800.
During that election, Thomas Jefferson ran against Aaron Burr for the presidency.
Both received the same number of electoral votes from the electoral college.
At the time, there wasn’t a system in place to break the tie.
The government decided to send it to the House of Representatives where they’d hold another vote.
In the end, it was Alexander Hamilton who made the deciding choice between the two.
He led his party to select Thomas Jefferson as president despite Jefferson often being a political enemy of Hamilton’s.
To avoid this problem in the future, they created the 12th Amendment.
It lays out the specific course of action the government would need to take in the event of a tie within the electoral college.
Along with laying out the process, they also wrote a specific clause about the eligibility of the vice president.
Before the 12th Amendment, the individual who won the presidency received the most votes.
The person who earned the second-most votes became the vice president.
In this case, it wasn’t uncommon for the president and vice president to be from two different parties.
That changed after the 12th Amendment.
It allowed the president and vice president to run as a team instead.
However, because it included eligibility rules for the vice president, it made it impossible for anyone who was ineligible to run as president to also run as vice president.
Before the 22nd Amendment came to fruition, that meant that any president who had served two terms could also serve as vice president.
For example, if George Washington had decided to run as John Adams’s vice president, then he could have thanks to the 12th Amendment.
That’s because, since he had been the president already, Washington was clearly eligible for the role.
Since there wasn’t a term limit at the time, he maintained that eligibility.
However, the opportunity never presented itself.
Most presidents decided to retire from office after two terms.
Following the 22nd Amendment, it became impossible for a president with two terms under their belt to also serve as a vice president.
Are There Any Loopholes In The 12th Or 22nd Amendments That Could Allow A Former President To Act As Vice President?
As with many laws, there are often loopholes that can allow savvy individuals to get away with things.
This case may also be true for the issue of whether a former president can be a vice president.
In particular, one has to consider the wording of the 12th Amendment.
The 12th Amendment specifically states this: “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.”
Some lawmakers might read this and think that because the president already served two elections, then that makes them ineligible to be president.
As a result, they’re unable to be the vice president.
However, a possible loophole to the case might be in the context.
For example, someone who was the president is clearly eligible for the role.
They would not have been the president otherwise.
As such, that makes them eligible for the role of president.
Since they’re eligible, in that they meet the requirements of being a citizen and of a certain age, then they’re also eligible to be vice president.
Another loophole to consider is in the 22nd Amendment.
The amendment states that a president cannot be elected to office after serving two terms.
However, the vice president isn’t elected to the presidential office when the president dies or steps down.
They take it over automatically.
As such, they’re not technically defying the law since they’re not elected president in the first place.
They’re only elected vice president.
Although lawmakers will likely argue that the case is semantic in nature, it will ultimately be up to the judicial branch to determine if a former president who has served two terms can be a vice president, too.
Can A Former Vice President Become The President?
A vice president can become president.
That was recently proven by the election of Joe Biden.
He served as Obama’s vice president for both of his terms.
Then he became elected president four years after the end of Obama’s run.
Many former presidents have served as vice presidents before becoming the president.
In the days of the founding fathers, the role was often a method for would-be presidents to learn the ropes of the office.
It’d get their name in the spotlight and assure the public that they had the knowledge and experience the office required.
Some vice presidents who later became presidents themselves include:
- John Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- Martin Van Buren
- John Tyler
- Millard Filmore
- Andrew Johnson
- Chester A. Arthur
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Calvin Coolidge
- Harry S. Truman
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald R. Ford
- George H. W. Bush
- Joe Biden
Some of these vice presidents became president after the president they served under died or stepped down.
Andrew Johnson, for example, took over the office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Gerald R. Ford took over the office when Nixon stepped down following the Watergate Scandal.
Others ran for the presidency and won it.
John Adams was the first vice president in history who then became president following an election.
Joe Biden is the most recent former vice president who went on to become an elected president.
What Vice Presidents Became President After The Former President Died?
While there is a handful of vice presidents who later became presidents themselves, there’s an even smaller number of those who earned the presidency because the previous one died.
Here are the nine vice presidents who became president following the former’s death.
1. John Tyler
Tyler became vice president to William Henry Harrison in 1840.
He had very little in common with Harrison, but he played a strategic role in bringing in states that believed in state’s rights.
Tyler didn’t think he’d do much and fully planned on being away from the capital during his vice presidency.
However, President Harrison died shortly into his term and Tyler found himself the next president.
At this time, there wasn’t anything written in law that specifically stated it would be the vice president who succeeded the president.
Luckily, the rest of the Congress went with Tyler’s claim that he was the new president.
Later, they would establish that the vice president was the next in line for the presidency.
2. Millard Fillmore
The second vice president to become president through death was Millard Fillmore.
He was vice president to Zachary Taylor.
His death took everyone by surprise.
It occurred shortly after the celebration of Independence Day.
He had attended various parties and drank some water and cherries and other fruit.
When he returned home, he grew ill for several days until he eventually perished.
Fillmore would go on to become president in his stead.
3. Andrew Johnson
Perhaps one of the most shocking events in history was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
After the end of the Civil War, a Confederate radical killed Lincoln while he was enjoying a night at the theatre.
Andrew Johnson, his vice president, became the next president.
Johnson was entirely different from Lincoln.
He was a supporter of state’s rights and a conservative.
He wasn’t as impactful as he’d have liked to have been in Congress since most of its Senators and Representatives were Lincoln supporters.
4. Chester A. Arthur
President Garfield was another victim of assassination.
He was only president for four months before Charles J. Guiteau shot him.
Chester A. Arthur, his vice president, took over the office for the remaining four years.
He had a reputation for working both for and against his own party in the pursuit of ideals.
5. Theodore Roosevelt
Although Theodore Roosevelt is a beloved president in his own right, he started as the vice president.
He was President William McKinley’s Vice President.
When McKinley died via assassination from an anarchist, Roosevelt rose to office.
He quickly made the most of his time as president.
Since his policies were so popular, it earned him another term as president afterward.
6. Calvin Coolidge
Coolidge was sleeping when he received the call that he was now the president.
The former president, Warren G. Harding, had died of a heart attack.
Coolidge continued with some of Harding’s plans for the country including supporting businesses.
However, he fell flat when providing financial support for struggling farms.
7. Harry S. Truman
Truman had to follow the great FDR as president when the latter died.
The second World War was nearing its end, and Truman hadn’t received any intelligence reports during it.
He wasn’t even made privy to any plans about the atomic bomb.
Despite that, he helped bring the country out of war and set it on its future path.
8. Lyndon B. Johnson
Another one of the most stunning presidential assassinations happened with John F. Kennedy.
It occurred out in the open, in public.
Perhaps one of the reasons it was so shocking was that Kennedy was well-liked.
Cameras also caught it occurring in real-time.
Following his death, Lyndon B. Johnson took the title of president.
Although he had his share of scandals, Johnson focused on the space program and tried to create a culture of plenty and health.
9. Gerald R. Ford
Ford became president when the former one, Richard Nixon, resigned from the office.
It was the first time any president had ever resigned.
Ford had the tough job of restoring trust and integrity in the office of the president.
Despite that, he focused on the economy and keeping America out of a war with the Middle East.
Although he’d lose the next election for the presidency, he was popular and loved by many.
Can A President Become A Senator?
You may also wonder if a senator can become president or if a president can become a senator after they’ve served.
A senator can become president and many senators actually do harbor plans to run for presidential office.
Being a senator is a great way to figure out how Congress works.
It also allows you to make connections with your fellow politicians.
Understanding those on either side of the aisle can make it easier to negotiate with them.
Even though senators can run for president, there have only been three sitting senators who ran for office and became president.
The first was Warren G. Harding in 1920.
He ran as a republican and represented the state of Ohio in the senate.
The second was John F. Kennedy in 1960.
He ran as a democrat and represented the state of Massachusetts.
Finally, the third was Barack Obama in 2008.
He ran as a democrat and represented the state of Illinois.
All of these senators were also relatively early in their terms of office, too.
Harding had only served a single term as a senator before taking the presidential office.
Kennedy had served two terms before his election as president.
Obama was barely halfway through his first senate term when he received the title.
The majority of presidents tend to come from government positions like governors, cabinet members, and vice presidents.
Governors and vice presidents, in particular, make up the most popular areas where presidential nominees get their start.
Once their term as president is over, you may wonder if a president can return to the senate and work there.
There is no law barring presidents from returning to work in the Senate.
Despite that, only one president in history has ever returned to the Senate floor after serving as president.
That was Andrew Johnson.
Johnson became president after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Following the end of his term, he attempted to run for re-election but was not successful.
He returned home to Tennessee and stayed active in both local and national politics.
He also tried to run for both the Senate and the House of Representatives during his retirement, but he was initially unsuccessful.
It wasn’t until 1875 that he won the election and returned to the Senate.
He found Senate work far more enjoyable than being president.
Despite enjoying the work, he didn’t get to do it for long.
He would suffer a stroke later in the year and die.
There are a few reasons a president may not run for senate after finishing their term.
The first is security.
It’s dangerous to be the president in today’s society.
Because of that, even after they’re out of office, former presidents have the Secret Service with them for a few years.
It can be difficult to get work done when you’re surrounded by the Secret Service.
The second is that it can sometimes hurt the party.
If the bulk of the American population wasn’t particularly fond of the person as a president, then they likely don’t want them involved in other parts of the government.
Because of that, their own party might refuse to endorse them as a candidate for the Senate.
Perhaps the most common reason is that most presidents tend to be on the older side.
After serving in the highest office in the American government, they may not feel the need to work in public office again.
Retirement is often a better idea.
According to the 22nd and 12th Constitutional Amendments, a president can only run for vice president if they haven’t served two terms as president.
While there are some loopholes that certain lawyers could use to argue the point, it’s unlikely that a president who has served two terms will ever run as someone’s vice president.
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