US President Donald Trump joked about holding on to power for “12 more years” at a rally in Atlanta, Georgia, on 25 September, where he delivered remarks on Black Economic Empowerment during an event at the Cobb Galleria Centre.
Watch the moment from Trump's rally here: pic.twitter.com/yNTBcb7g2Z— The Recount (@therecount) September 25, 2020
As he mocked the notion that he would prolong his tenure beyond the US Constitution's limit of two terms (eight years), he imagined the outcry from his perceived critics:
“I told you he's a dictator! … Under no circumstances will he give up power. He intends to serve at least two more terms,” said Trump, adding that certain of his remarks contain a “degree of sarcasm” which prompt people to shout “twelve more years!”
Trump was referring to earlier press coverage after he declined yet again on Wednesday to agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election on 3 November.
“We’re going to have to see what happens… You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster,” Trump had said at the news conference.
“You know, you can't joke, [The media] always cut it before the laugh so they think he's serious,” said the POTUS, addressing his supporters.
At that point the crowd started chanting “12 more years!”, with the president laughing in response.
Netizens were split in their reactions, with some lambasting the Democrats for lack of a sense of “humor”.
In his speech, he literally said you would do this shit... stop clowning yourself, Jim.— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) September 25, 2020
Dems just don't have a sense of humor.— Kay (@KayBamaFan45) September 25, 2020
He triggers each and every one of you. And you fall for it time and time again. Love to see it.— Singingtwig (@mamasadu) September 25, 2020
Critics believed the whole incident at the rally was “staged” whereas fans applauded the "joke".
It's frightening that they think it's just a joke.— ⚜Harley🇺🇸 (@kittenhawk1) September 25, 2020
Because it is! 🤦🏻♀️— 🥎 softball mom 🥎 (@cnrogers93) September 25, 2020
Nope. Trump is going down in flames. It’s just going to get worse after the debate on Tuesday, for the incompetent incumbent.— Guy M. Courtney (@gdoughdoc) September 25, 2020
Welcome to 1930s Germany my friends. We're watching it happen.— Tim McDonnell (@avaloneye) September 25, 2020
Some on social media doubted if there was any point in longer presidential terms, considering the age of those who aspire to the White House.
I’m slightly in favor of longer terms for presidents who get the popular and electoral vote but Trump and Biden are both examples of why we have limits as both would probably die before the end of their term due to old age or complications.— Happy Mask Salesman (@salesman_mask) September 25, 2020
I give those arteries 5 more, tops.— Socialities for Socialism (@BobbyBuenosdias) September 25, 2020
Some comments on social media underscored the importance of adhering to the rules regarding presidential terms set down in the Constitution.
Every "12 more years" chanted is a step closer to authoritarian rule. It's another time they spit in the face of the Founding Fathers. George Washington could've been King but he told his supporters America would have no such thing ever, yet those that "love our country" disagree— Liberty For All (@Liberty4All_US) September 25, 2020
Trump floated the idea of “negotiating” his way towards a third term as he addressed supporters at a rally in Minden, Nevada on 12 September.
After firing up the crowd with assurances that he would triumph in the November presidential election and claim another four years at the White House, Trump suggested that he might be looking at a longer stay, claiming that he might have such a right, having been plagued by probes of all kinds throughout his first term, spearheaded by the Democrats, which he denounced repeatedly as “witch hunts" and "presidential harassment".
"We're gonna win four more years in the White House, and then we'll negotiate, because based on the way we were treated, we're probably entitled to another four years after that" -- Trump, slurring, began his rally in Nevada by teasing that he intends to serve more than two terms pic.twitter.com/dgPjimP7Rv— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 13, 2020
Despite unsubstantiated allegations of the President’s illegal activities, connections between his campaign and Russia, as well as his purported obstruction of justice, none of the claims were proved to be true.
It is anyone’s guess as to just how serious Trump’s ambitions for a third term might be.
The US Constitution allows for two terms in office. To change that, Trump would need to amend the constitution. The only way a US president can serve more than eight years is by filling in for another president if the latter is forced to step down early.
The original non-formal tradition for a two-term limit was established by the first US President George Washington who served from 1789 to 1797 and who refused to serve a third term. Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only President to have won a third and fourth term (in the early part of which he died and was replaced by his deputy Harry Truman) in the 1940s when America was at war. Because of this the 22nd Amendment was adopted to rule out a repeat.