In order to be elected president, a person must meet the eligibility requirements laid out in the Constitution. After that, the person must secure his or her party’s nomination. Finally, he or she must face a demanding campaign and election process.
According to the Constitution anyone who wishes to become president must be:
- At least thirty-five years old
- A resident of the United States for at least fourteen years
- A natural-born citizen
The last requirement has caused some confusion and controversy. According to U.S. law, a child born abroad to parents who are American citizens is also a citizen, but it is not clear from the Constitution whether such a person could be president. As of 2006, the courts have not ruled on whether an American citizen born outside of the United States may be president. A variety of people have tried to amend the Constitution to allow citizens born abroad to be president, but so far they have had no success.
Demographics of the Presidents
The Constitution allows women and members of any ethnic, racial, or religious group to be president, but for most of the country’s history all of the presidents have been Protestant white men. Barack Obama is the first non-white person to serve as president and John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, is the only non-Protestant to hold the office.
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