Why would the last certifiably sane occupant of the White House consider a run for the Vice-Presidency, an office that Vice-President John Nance Garner derided as “not worth a pitcher of warm spit” and John Adams scorned as “the most insignificant office that the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived?” In a word, Trump. The former President told voters in 2016 that his legacy and life’s work would be threatened by a Trump presidency. That would be doubly true of a second Trump term.
Federal law poses no obstacle to the Democrats’ dream ticket. The 22nd amendment, ratified in the wake of FDR’s four electoral victories, prohibits the election of a president to more than two terms. No provision prevents a former president from assuming the office through succession nor from running for the vice-presidency. Securing Obama’s assent for the race would likely require Biden to offer him a virtual “co-presidency.” The notion has been raised before. In 1980, Ronald Reagan, also facing a challenging run against an incumbent president, briefly considered former President Gerald Ford for his running mate and “co-president.” Ultimately, Reagan lacked sufficient comfort with his former opponent to test such uncharted political waters.