As Kamala Harris continues to have the least favorable ratings of any modern vice president in U.S. history, there has been speculation that President Joe Biden might opt to replace her on the ticket in the 2024 race. A number of names have been floated including California Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and even former talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Then two other names have been suggested as potential running mates for the sitting president.
That would be Barack and Michelle Obama.
However, though Michelle could replace Harris in theory, Barack Obama simply couldn’t.
More importantly, it is really a moot point as it isn’t actually going to happen. This reporter and others have suggested ways that it “could” happen, including where Harris could have been named to fill the late Diane Feinstein’s senate seat in California, or how she could be named U.S. attorney general, but the Biden team has made it abundantly clear that Harris is the VEEP, and she’ll be on the ticket.
So What About Obama
Again, Michelle Obama could be Biden’s VEEP, or even run for the White House in the future. But it needs to be stressed that her husband, former President Barack Obama can do neither.
He is constitutionally ineligible.
It comes down to the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It changed how the vice president was elected. Prior to its passage, each member of the Electoral College cast two electoral votes, with no distinction between electoral votes for president or vice president. The presidential candidate receiving the greatest number of votes—provided that number was at least a majority of the electors—was elected president, while the presidential candidate receiving the second-most votes was elected vice president.
More importantly, it provided that no individual constitutionally ineligible to the office of president would be eligible to serve as vice president. This then interacts directly with the 22nd Amendment, which restricts a candidate from being elected to the presidency for more than two terms.
Obama served two full terms from 2009 to 2017. Unless the United States Constitution were further amended, there is simply no way around it.
“It’s been interpreted to say that the vice president has to have the same qualifications as the president,” Gary Nordlinger, an adjunct professor at The George Washington University, told WUSA9 ahead of the 2020 election.
Of course, this hasn’t stopped the entirely crazy conspiracy theories – including that Biden is a puppet or figurehead for Obama, and that the sitting president would seek a way to put Obama back into the Oval Office by naming him vice president and then resigning.
“If anyone tried this,” said Nordlinger, “It would for sure end up at the Supreme Court. Because that’s who decides conflicts within the constitution.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.