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Several readers have written in about whether it is possible for President-elect Barack Obama to become president before Jan. 20. While the chances of this happening are virtually nil, there are constitutional paths to such a development.
One would be for Condoleeza Rice to resign as Secretary of State and for President Bush to nominate Mr. Obama to take her place and the Senate would have to confirm Obama. Then President Bush and Vice-President Cheney would have to resign and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President pro-tempore of the Senate Robert Byrd would have to decline the presidency, resulting in Secretary of State Obama becoming President Obama.
An even simpler path would be for Vice-President Cheney to resign, followed by President Bush nominating Obama as vice-president. Obama would have to be confirmed by the House and the Senate. Then Bush would resign the presidency and Obama would become president.
With either of these scenarios, President Obama would have to be sworn in for a full term on Jan. 20, and he would be eligible to run for a second full term.
As I said, the likelihood of this is nil, but constitutionally it is possible.
University of Maine