Joe Scarborough: Why Can't Clinton Run for a Third Term?

Does a former GOP congressman who voted to impeach President Bill Clinton now support a third term for him? MSNBC's Joe Scarborough lauded Clinton on Tuesday's Morning Joe and asked him why he shouldn't be able to run for office again.

However, he didn't once bring up Clinton's impeachment for lying under oath about his sexual misconduct while in office, during Tuesday's media firestorm over GOP candidate Herman Cain's accusations of misconduct.

Scarborough, a self-described "conservative," blamed Republicans for the 22nd Amendment – which enacts a two-term limit on every President – and touted that he would be "flooded" with requests from people wanting Clinton to run again.

"People will say why can't this guy run for president in 2012? And of course you can't, because Republicans didn't want there to be another FDR back in the 1940s," Scarborough noted, before asking "shouldn't a president be able to serve two terms, take some time off, and then run again? Shouldn't Americans have that choice?"

Just last year, Scarborough argued the same thing after he raved about Clinton's accomplishments to his face.

Scarborough told Clinton in September of 2010 that "you've always been known as the brightest, the first-class, however you want to put it – but you've had the ability the past decade to go all around the world, start this initiative, understand issues – you've understood issues better than anyone in Washington, when you were President."

Then after throwing his former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich under the bus, Scarborough took a shot at his own party by lamenting that Clinton couldn't run again.

"[D]oesn't it make sense for this country to say, okay, let a guy serve, or a woman serve for eight years, then they can take a term or two off, but then if they have something to give back to America in the terms of leadership, give them that opportunity. It seems so short-sighted, just because the Republicans were upset that FDR was President for four terms."    

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 8 at 8:39 a.m. EST, is as follows:

[8:39]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So we talked a couple of years ago, and I asked you a question at the end about whether guys like you should be able to run again, because I can guarantee you, we will get back to the office and we'll be flooded with e-mails and responses on Twitter. People will say why can't this guy run for president in 2012? And of course you can't, because Republicans didn't want there to be another FDR back in the 1940s. Shouldn't it though, shouldn't a president be able to serve two terms, take some time off, and then run again? Shouldn't Americans have that choice?

BILL CLINTON: I – I – yes I do. I believe that should be the rule. And I think that, as a practical matter, you couldn't apply it to anyone who's already served. But if going forward, I personally believe that should be the rule because – look at President Reagan. He was 70 years old when he became president. John McCain was older than that when he ran for president. And he clearly had all his capacity.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

CLINTON: People are living longer, they're developing greater capacity, so I've always thought that should be the rule. Not to affect me or anyone who's served, but going forward.

SCARBOROUGH: Other countries are able to do it. Winston Churchill, booted out after World War II, came back.

CLINTON: The parliamentary – parliamentary systems do it. The great Gladstone served four times, the last time when he was 82 in England. But the main thing is, in this era of instantaneous communication, we – we shouldn't – we should worry more about getting our heads on straight about the nature of the problem and working our way out of it. I do think the President has done a better job than he's gotten credit for. But Americans hire presidents to win for them. He understands that. But they just need to understand that this is going to take some time to get out of and we have to begin. And the only strategy that will work is one that a, is oriented toward the future, and b, relies on both the private sector and government to work together. That's the point of the book. With all the specifics, that's the point of the book.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014