- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003

Former President Bill Clinton’s call to change the 22nd Amendment to allow presidents to run again doesn’t have many fans on Capitol Hill — even from those who agree with him in principle.

“I’m totally opposed to the way he wants to change it. If he wants to repeal it, I’d be right with him,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. “He wants to change it so he can run.”

Last week, Mr. Clinton told an audience at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston that the amendment, which limits presidents to serving two elected terms, should be changed only to limit a president to two consecutive terms.

“There may come a time when we elect a president at age 45 or 50, and then 20 years later the country comes up against the same kind of problems the president faced before,” he said. “People would like to bring that man or woman back but they would have no way to do so.”

Mr. Clinton, 56, served from 1993 through 2001. He said he wasn’t necessarily thinking about himself and running again, but Republicans said that’s what the suggestion was all about.

Mr. DeLay said he agrees the amendment should be changed, but he wants to do away with it entirely. He said Mr. Clinton should join him in that effort.

“If he would help me maybe we could repeal the 22nd Amendment and then he can run again and we can beat him once and for all,” Mr. DeLay said.

Other Republicans just dismissed Mr. Clinton’s remarks.

“I think two terms is quite enough,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican.

“I just say good try, Mr. President, good try,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

Mr. Hatch is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would have to approve any change, and he said that’s just not going to happen.

“Nobody’s going to do that,” he said.

The 22nd Amendment, which passed Congress March 21, 1947, became part of the Constitution when Minnesota became the 36th state to ratify it on Feb. 27, 1951. It limits presidents to two elected terms in office with a maximum of 10 years total in the position.

After a half-century, even some members of Mr. Clinton’s party aren’t anxious to change that.

“I haven’t talked to the constitutional experts on it, and I’d say right now I’m satisfied with the law the way it is,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.

There are some who said the former president has the right idea.

“I’d be for that,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. “But Henry Hyde and I are going to go further.”

Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Hyde, Illinois Republican and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, as well as current chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, are all sponsors of legislation to repeal the 22nd Amendment.

But asked if the proposal is going anywhere, Mr. Hoyer flatly said, “No.”

Several lawmakers said even though they are opposed to term limits, the public seems OK with the limit on the chief executive.

Mr. Clinton isn’t the first president to call for a change in the Constitution regarding presidential term limitations. Former President Ronald Reagan, in the later years of his second term, also said the amendment should be repealed, although he said the change should not apply to him.

James G. Lakely contributed to this story.

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