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Requirements for President of the United States

Qualifications for presidential candidates have remained the same since the year Washington accepted the presidency. As directed by the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older. These requirements do not prohibit a woman from being president, yet this has yet to occur. What "unwritten" perceptions of presidential candidates have prevented this? Do you think these perceptions will change? What might cause such a change? When might it occur?

What Makes a Candidate Run?

Most candidates, past and present, have fought hard for their party's nomination. Today, many politicians make this their life's work as they move from city, to state, to national office. This has not always been the case

Many people don't know that our country's first presidential candidate, George Washington, was reluctant to accept the office. "I cannot describe, the painful emotions which I felt in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the Presidency of the United States," Washington revealed in a 1789 speech. Washington had fully intended to retire to Mount Vernon when the Constitutional Convention was over. But Washington's sense of duty to his new country outweighed his desire to withdraw from public life.

Washington was not the only candidate to feel reluctant about the presidency. James K. Polk accepted the Democratic party's nomination as a duty "neither...sought nor declined." Do we hear candidates speak of "duty," as a motivating factor in their candidacy, today? Do you think today's presidential campaigns are more often characterized by desire to act on a "sense of duty" or by desire to achieve personal or political ambition?