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Constitutional Qualifications to Run for President

6 min read
becoming president
Jack Nagel · Jun 30, 2023

What Are The Qualifications To Run For President

The role of the president is one of the highest offices in a country, carrying immense responsibility and influence. However, you must meet specific presidential candidate qualifications for presidential election eligibility. The country's founders established these requirements to ensure that individuals seeking the highest office possess certain characteristics and meet specific criteria.

Constitutional Qualifications to Run for President

The prerequisites for running for president of the United States are outlined in Article II, Section One of the United States Constitution and encompass specific constitutional requirements for presidential candidates. These qualifications serve as the baseline presidential eligibility criteria for individuals aspiring to hold the highest office in the country.

The constitutional requirements to run for president include the following:

Natural-born Citizen

The most straightforward way to acquire natural-born citizenship in the United States is by being born within the territorial boundaries of the country, regardless of the citizenship status of one's parents. This principle is called jus soli (Latin for "right of the soil"), meaning that anyone born on U.S. soil, including territories and military bases, is considered a natural-born citizen.

Another path to natural-born citizenship is being born abroad to at least one citizen parent. This principle is called jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood"). In such cases, individuals acquire citizenship through their parents' citizenship, and the parent must have resided in the United States for a certain period.

While the Constitution defines the requirement of being a natural-born citizen for the presidency, it does not explicitly define the term. This has led to some debates, such as the 2008 election, when questions about Barack Obama's eligibility were raised. The "birther" conspiracy theory falsely claimed that Obama was not born in the United States and did not meet the requirement of natural-born citizens.

Age Requirement

The rationale behind establishing a minimum age requirement for the presidency was to ensure that individuals assuming the highest office in the country possess sufficient life experience, maturity, and judgment to handle the responsibilities and challenges of the position.

The age requirement helps to ensure that potential candidates have had time to gain valuable experience in various aspects of life, such as education, career, and public service. By setting a minimum age of 35, the framers of the Constitution sought to strike a balance between allowing individuals to gain adequate experience and not imposing an excessively high age restriction that might exclude capable leaders.

However, there have been controversies as some argue that younger individuals should be eligible to run for president, asserting that age does not necessarily reflect leadership ability or competence.


The residency requirement serves as a means to ensure that the President has a strong connection and understanding of the United States, its people, and its institutions. By mandating a 14-year residency, the framers of the Constitution aimed to ensure the presidential candidate eligibility with sufficient familiarity with the country's history, culture, and political system.

It is important to note that the 14-year residency requirement does not necessarily have to be consecutive. This means that an individual can accumulate the necessary years of residency over time as long as the total duration amounts to at least 14 years. Additionally, the requirement applies specifically to residency within the United States and does not include time spent living in U.S. territories or possessions.

Non-constitutional eligibility requirements for presidential candidacy

Alongside these constitutional requirements, additional running for president qualifications is often considered necessary by voters and political parties. While not legally mandated, these qualities often influence the public's decision-making process during presidential elections. They include:

Political Party Affiliation

While not explicitly required, it is highly advantageous for a candidate to be part of one of the major political parties in the United States, the Democratic or the Republican Party. These parties have established networks, fundraising capabilities, and voter bases that can significantly assist a candidate's campaign. Independent candidates or representing a minor party can be challenging due to limited resources and a lack of institutional support.

However, the dominance of the two major political parties has sparked discussions about the inclusiveness of the qualifications for presidential office. Critics argue that the existing system favors candidates from the major parties, making it difficult for independent and third-party candidates to access debates, secure ballot access, and receive media coverage.

Fundraising and Financial Resources

Running for president requires substantial financial resources to sustain a national campaign. Candidates must have access to funds for advertising, campaign staff, travel expenses, and other campaign-related costs. They need to build a robust fundraising operation to attract donations from individual supporters and secure endorsements from influential individuals or organizations that can provide financial backing.

Name Recognition and Public Image

Candidates with higher name recognition and a positive public image have an advantage in presidential campaigns. Prior political experience, such as serving as a governor, senator, or member of Congress, can help raise a candidate's profile and demonstrate their leadership abilities. Furthermore, building a positive public image through effective communication, media presence, and public appearances is crucial for winning voters.

Debates have emerged regarding the importance of prior political experience and qualifications for presidential candidates. Some people believe that individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences outside of politics can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the role.

Campaign Strategy and Organization

Developing a well-planned campaign strategy and establishing a solid organization is critical for success. This includes hiring experienced campaign staff, securing endorsements from influential figures, and creating a comprehensive policy platform. Candidates must also carefully consider their messaging, target demographics, and geographic distribution of campaign efforts to reach and mobilize voters effectively.

Voter Demographics and Electoral Math

Winning the presidency requires garnering sufficient support in the Electoral College, strategically targeting battleground states, and appealing to critical voting blocs. Therefore, candidates must know regional dynamics, demographic shifts, and voting patterns to tailor their campaign strategies accordingly.

Former Presidents Who Surpassed the Qualifications

Throughout American history, presidents have met the constitutional requirements to run for the highest office and exceeded those qualifications through their exceptional leadership, experience, and accomplishments.

A few case studies of presidents who fulfilled the presidential candidacy prerequisites include:

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is a notable example of a President who fulfilled additional qualifications. Besides being of age and meeting the residency requirement, Roosevelt showcased exceptional leadership qualities and experience, contributing to his eligibility for the presidency.

Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and was known for his leadership during the Spanish-American War. His involvement in military affairs demonstrated his capability to make crucial decisions and lead in conflict.

Roosevelt also had a robust political background, serving as Governor of New York and Vice President before assuming the presidency. His experience in state governance and as a national executive prepared him for the challenges of the highest office.

Furthermore, Roosevelt's commitment to progressive reforms, such as trust-busting, conservation of natural resources, and consumer protection, showcased his dedication to improving society.


How to Run for Office
becoming president
By Jack Nagel
I lead the marketing team at Good Party. After watching Bernie Sanders get squashed by the Democrat party twice, I knew I needed to get involved in giving outsiders a chance in American politics. I bring entrepreneurship and startup experience to our insurgent team at Good Party, helping us find sustainable ways to grow.