Lesson Objectives:- The requirements for being president
- Birth controversies
- The age and background of the president
- Electoral votes versus popular vote
- The 12th Amendment
The requirements of becoming president are not that stringent. Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution says:
"No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
Once elected, the president's salary is $400,000 with $169,000 for annual expenses, travel, and entertainment. Plus, he lives rent free in the White House.
The language in the Constitution says the president must be a natural born citizen. What exactly does that mean? Does the child have to be born in the United States or does it extend to children who are born to U.S. Citizens while they are traveling abroad?
One day, this requirement will be challenged in the Supreme Court and there will be a more concrete interpretation.
There have been some issues through the years starting with Mitt Romney's father who ran for president.
George Romney ran in 1968. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Senator Ted Cruz ran in 2016. He was born in Canada.
Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012. He was born in Hawaii, but there was some controversy over whether or not that was true.
Even though the minimum age is 35, no president has been anywhere near that. John F. Kennedy was our youngest president at the age of 43. The average president is inaugurated at the age of 54.
Most presidents have been white, male, and protestant. There have only been two exceptions. John F. Kennedy was Catholic and Barack Obama is African American.
The candidates are nominated by each party every four years at the national conventions. When the voters vote in the general election, those votes are counted to determine how the state voted on the candidates, but the electors are the ones who actually cast the official vote in the electoral college.
Because of the electoral college system we have in place, there have been times when a president has won the popular vote but lost the election because of the electoral college. Also, there have been times when a president did not receive the majority vote in the electoral college but was elected president because there were more than two candidates.
In the 1800 election, Thomas Jefferson versus John Adams, Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received the same number of electoral votes. The way the system was outlined in the Constitution, the candidate with the most electoral votes would be president, and the one with the second most votes would be vice-president. Since there was a tie, it was up to the House of Representatives to choose, and after much chaos, they chose Thomas Jefferson for president and Aaron Burr for vice-president.
As a result of that confusion, the 12th Amendment was ratified.
The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1804, and specified the separate election of the president and the vice president by the electoral college.