By Nick Tomboulides
Special Thanks: One of the many superstars we are fortunate to work with at U.S. Term Limits is Ken Quinn, our Northern Regional Director. Over the last few weeks and months, Ken has been more machine than man – tracking down presidential candidates everywhere and getting them on the record about term limits. This article would not have been possible without the efforts of Ken and his amazing volunteers. Thank you Ken and two term limits supporters who asked questions, Robert Plourde and Chuck Jette.
Before writing this, I debated whether it might be easier to give you the list of Americans who are NOT running for president, because that might be shorter at this point.
Over 500 people are running for president in 2020. We don’t have the time to discuss all of them, so we will focus on the 20 or so major candidates with the most name recognition, well-funded campaigns and best chances of winning. Here’s what we want to know: where do all these candidates stand on the issue of term limits for members of Congress?
The presidency has had 8-year term limits since 1951, of course, and this reform has worked well. But Congress conveniently omitted themselves when they wrote the 22nd amendment. Now 82 percent of Americans are demanding congressional term limits, which can only be proposed by either a two-thirds vote of Congress or a Term Limits Convention.
While the president has no official role in that process, he or she wields a powerful pulpit which can be used to force Congress or the states to do the right thing. Term limits are much more likely to pass if they have a champion residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here’s where the candidates stand so far:
[Note: With a field this large, not every candidate had a statement on the record. When no statement existed, we deployed our U.S. Term Limits team to candidate events to demand one.]
President Donald Trump – SUPPORTS. President Trump is a term limits supporter, having first come out for the idea in October 2016. Trump specifically endorsed the U.S. Term Limits (USTL) Amendment of three House terms, two Senate terms and no longer limit. Since becoming president, Trump hasn’t discussed the topic very often. Apart from convening a single meeting on term limits in April 2018 and sending a supportive tweet about it, Trump hasn’t been proactive. Watch video on Trump’s term limits position here.
Governor William Weld – SUPPORTS. Weld, the former two-term Massachusetts governor, is running a long shot bid to unseat Trump in the GOP primary. He has a long track record of supporting term limits, having chaired the U.S. Term Limits Advisory Council in the 1990s. Weld also endorses the USTL amendment for three House and two Senate terms. Watch video on Weld’s support of term limits.
Vice President Joe Biden – OPPOSES. Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate and has always opposed term limits. In 1996, he put his opposition on the record by voting against a bill, sponsored by Sen. Fred Thompson, which would have moved term limits forward.
Senator Bernie Sanders – OPPOSES. Since first running for U.S. Senate in 1972, it has been all politics for Sanders. He has run for office 23 times and held various offices for 36 of the last 38 years. Sanders consistently opposes term limits, even going so far as to call the issue “undemocratic.” View video on his stance during May townhall.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke – SUPPORTS. Since entering politics, Beto has always made term limits a major piece of his platform. He is the only presidential candidate to have signed the USTL pledge while in Congress and in 2017, along with then-GOP congressman Rod Blum, co-founded the Congressional Term Limits Caucus. Watch video on Beto’s term limits position here.
Senator Elizabeth Warren – OPPOSES. In March, Warren was asked about term limits by USTL regional director Ken Quinn at a Town Hall event in Conway, NH. She told Ken she is opposed because term limits “make Congress more dependent on lobbyists.” The quip about lobbyists is, of course, a falsehood which we have addressed HERE. You may watch her answer on video here.
Senator Cory Booker – SUPPORTS. Booker told Ken Quinn at a town hall in April that, while he does support term limits, it would not be one of his priorities if elected. Watch video on Booker’s term limits position here.
Andrew Yang – SUPPORTS. Yang, a venture capital entrepreneur, has tweeted his support for congressional term limits on numerous occasions, citing research which shows that holding onto power for too long can cause brain damage. Here’s a video where he states his support.
Governor John Hickenlooper – SUPPORTS. At a town hall event in May, Hickenlooper – the former governor of Colorado — told Ken Quinn term limits are a “good idea” and admitted he wouldn’t have made it in politics without term limits. Hickenlooper then went further and endorsed the idea of a Term Limits Convention. Watch video on Hickenlooper’s term limits position here.
Governor Steve Bullock – OPPOSES. Bullock, the current governor of Montana, told USTL Executive Director Nick Tomboulides in February that he opposes term limits and has zero interest in pursuing the issue.
Mayor Bill DiBlasio – SUPPORTS. New York Mayor Bill Di Blasio was at one time a term limits hero. He opposed Michael Bloomberg’s power grab for a third term and later helped the city restore its 8-year, two-term limit. Read more here.
Secretary Julian Castro – SUPPORTS. Castro, who served as President Obama’s HUD Secretary and previously Mayor of San Antonio, told Ken Quinn at a May town hall that he supports congressional term limits provided they aren’t made too short. As Mayor, Castro had to abide by a four-year term limit, so that might be his frame of reference for “too short.’ Watch video on Castro’s term limits position here.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand – SUPPORTS. Gillibrand told Quinn at a May town hall that she supports congressional term limits to help stop corruption and get money out of politics. View video on Gillibrand’s term limits position here.
Congressman Eric Swalwell – OPPOSES. Back in January, Swalwell told CNN reporter Poppy Harlow “the best term limit is to have public financing of campaigns and independent redistricting,” a textbook punting of the question.
Congressman John Delaney – SUPPORTS. Delaney has consistently voiced support for term limits in both the House and Senate, although he recently removed the issue from the platform section of his campaign website. Watch video on Delaney’s term limits position here.
Congressman Seth Moulton – SUPPORTS. In a televised candidate forum in May, Moulton endorsed term limits, saying the system would work a lot better if members focused on doing what is right as opposed to what will get them re-elected. went on to laugh at those who believe Congress is working well. Watch video on Moulton’s term limits position here.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard – UNDECIDED. Gabbard, the lone member of the U.S. House from Hawaii, told Ken Quinn at a town hall in Manchester, NH that she is undecided on term limits but used opposition only arguments in her discourse. Ken Quinn videos Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s comments on term limits for Congress.
Senator Michael Bennett – OPPOSES. During Bennett’s 10 years as a U.S. senator from Colorado, he has never sponsored a single bill for term limits on Congress.
Congressman Tim Ryan – OPPOSES. Ryan has spent 16 years in Congress and not once sponsored a bill for term limits on Congress.
Marianne Williamson – OPPOSES. In a May 2019 town hall meeting, Williamson – a New York Times bestselling author – told Ken Quinn she is not interested in pursuing term limits. Watch video on Williamson’s term limits position here.
Adam Kokesh – SUPPORTS. Asked his position on term limits, Kokesh responded, “One of the most critical elements of leadership in any circumstance is flexibility to adapt to changing conditions and shifts in people’s needs. In the private sector, if customers withdraw support, leadership changes immediately. The fact that governments deny this adaptability reveals their core corruption and term limits would be a good first step to ensuring all leadership is subject to the same immediate accountability.”
No public position on congressional term limits:
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Mayor Wayne Messam, Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Amy Klobuchar
In the Republican primary, both active candidates support term limits, including the presumptive nominee.
In the Democratic primary, eight candidates support term limits, eight oppose it, one is undecided, and five candidates’ positions are unknown.
Want to help us improve on those numbers?
Get involved. Sign the petition at TermLimits.com/petition. Contact the candidates who haven’t weighed in yet and ask where they stand. Pressure those who oppose it to consider changing their position. It is very important that we have a president, regardless of party, who is a vocal champion of our term limits effort.
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