An alert reader recently sent a link that purported to prove that President Obama “wished to seek an unprecedented 3rd [sic] term as Commander in Chief.” The article, published as “breaking news” by the Rand Paul Review website claims that Obama made the announcement of his intention to seek a third term “earlier this week” in a “speech to supporters.” The reader cited this article as proof of President Obama’s intent to subvert or alter the Constitution and install himself as an authoritarian ruler.
Upon investigation, Examiner has determined that the article is a hoax. Red flags were raised immediately by the undated article which was not attributed to a legitimate news source. The date of the article was determined to be August 2013 by examining the link’s URL. There is also no author listed.
An obvious problem with the article’s claim was that the quote from President Obama did not announce his intention to run for a third term. Additionally, a third term would not be “unprecedented” since President Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third term in 1940 and fourth in 1944.
According to the Rand Paul Review, Obama told supporters:
“I would put [my administration] up against any prior administration since FDR,” Obama said. “We didn’t ask for the challenges that we face, but we don’t shrink from them either.” He continued, “And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
The author of the article jumps to the conclusion that, because Obama says that “it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades,” he intends to run for a third term. The author never makes the claim that Obama had explicitly declared his candidacy for 2016.
An additional problem with the claims made in the article is that Obama did not make that speech in 2013. A search of the internet found a Politico article that referenced the same Obama quote. The date on the Politico piece? May 27, 2009. This was a mere four months into President Obama’s first term.
In fact, the Politico quote is slightly different from the Rand Paul Review quote. In the Politico piece, which is accompanied by a video clip of the quote, President Obama actually says, “I would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR”[emphasis mine]. He then continues, “We didn't ask for the challenges that we face, but we don't shrink from them either."
The authors of the Rand Paul Review apparently edited the Obama quote to conceal the fact that the President’s words were from 2009 and not 2013. In context, the president is clearly referring to the next three years of his first term and not announcing his intention to seek a not-unprecedented third term.
The Politico article also gave the location of the speech in question. It reportedly took place during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hilton. The date was presumably May 27 or shortly before.
With this information the original speech can be located on the White House website. The speech titled, “Remarks by the President at a DNC fundraiser reception” and gives the location as the Beverly Hills Hilton. The published version of the speech is dated May 29, 2009. Interestingly, the text of the speech does not contain the FDR comparison. Another video on the Politico site shows the president with a microphone in hand giving the speech on the White House website while he was at a podium in the first video. This may mean that the FDR comparison was not part of the president’s speech, but was given at a question-and-answer session. In either case, Obama definitely made the remark only four months into his presidency.
When Examiner contacted the Rand Paul Review, Kevin G., a spokesman for the site, responded that the article is “labeled as political satire and links to a petition that calls for term limits for all Congressman [sic]. This issue is important to those of at Rand Paul Review, as well as Rand Paul's campaign and superpacs” [sic]. The Rand Paul Review does note on its Facebook page that it is a “grassroots effort” and states that it is “not Rand Paul’s official page,” but this is not apparent on the website.
While the article was not real, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) did introduce a bill in 2013 that would repeal the 22nd Amendment and allow President Obama to run for a third term. The bill has apparently died in committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives since no action has been taken. Govtrack gives the bill a zero percent chance of becoming law.