Whether Donald Trump’s White House comeback succeeds, including winning the Republican nomination, is for voters to decide.
The only thing that’s certain is a second Trump presidency would be limited to one term. That much has already been decided by the U.S. Constitution.
The 22nd Amendment states it pretty clearly: “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.”
Trump previously had a successful presidential campaign in 2016. That’s one. A successful bid in 2024 would be the second. So a subsequent Trump administration would be a one-and-done affair.
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The Constitution’s presidential term limit has nothing to do with consecutive terms. Nor are consecutive terms considered one presidency.
“If you’re a Republican and you want to put someone in office who could possibly serve two terms, (Trump is) not your guy,” said Mark Kende, director of the Drake University Constitutional Law Center.
The amendment was added in the early 1950s during the Truman administration, but it was more aimed at Harry Truman’s predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt, who had been elected four times but who died not even two months into his fourth term.
The amendment codified the pre-FDR tradition, set by George Washington, of just two terms.
“It was a reaction to FDR’s length of service was sort of one of the major concerns in terms of supporting it,” Kende said.
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Kevin Wagner, pollster and chairman of the Department of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, said he doubts the constitutional limit to one term will be a campaign issue.
“There’s going to be a group of Republicans that will be making that calculation,” he said. “But the vast majority of supporters are not making that kind of calculation. It’s more a ‘Trump stands for me’ kind of thing.”
Trump is the 45th president. If he were to win in 2024, he would be listed in presidential annals as the 47th president as well.