TERM OF OFFICE:
Elected by the people, through the electoral college, to a four-year term; limited to two terms.
$200,000 plus $50,000 allowance for expenses, and up to $100,000 tax-free for travel and official entertainment
January 20, following the November general election
Native-born American citizen, at least 35 years old and at least 14 years a resident of the United States.
To protect the Constitution and enforce the laws made by the Congress.
To recommend legislation to the Congress; to call special sessions of the Congress; to deliver messages to the Congress; to veto bills; to appoint federal judges; to appoint heads of federal departments and agencies and other principal federal officials; to appoint representatives to foreign countries; to carry on official business with foreign nations; to exercise the function of commander-in-chief of the armed forces; to grant pardons for offenses against the United States.
The Constitution requires the president to be a native-born American citizen at least 35 years of age. Candidates for the presidency are chosen by political parties several months before the presidential election, which is held every four years (in years divisible evenly by four) on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The method of electing the president is peculiar to the American system. Although the names of the candidates appear on the ballots, technically the people of each state do not vote directly for the president (and vice president). Instead, they select a slate of presidential electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives each state has in Congress. The candidate with the highest number of votes in each state wins all the electoral votes of that state.
The electors of all 50 states and the District of Columbia—a total of 538 persons—compose what is known as the Electoral College. Under the terms of the Constitution, the College never meets as a body. Instead, the electors gather in the state capitals shortly after the election and cast their votes for the candidate with the largest number of popular votes in their respective states. To be successful, a candidate for the presidency must receive 270 votes. The Constitution stipulates that if no candidate has a majority, the decision shall be made by the House of Representatives, with all members from a state voting as a unit. In this event, each state and the District of Columbia would be allotted one vote only.
The presidential term of four years begins on January 20 (it was changed from March by the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933) following a November election. The president starts his or her official duties with an inauguration ceremony, traditionally held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where Congress meets'. The president publicly takes an oath of office, which is traditionally administered by the chief justice of the United States. The words are prescribed in Article II of the Constitution:
/ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to thebest of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The oath-taking ceremony is usually followed by an inaugural address in which the new president outlines the policies and plans of his or her administration.
The office of President of the United States is one of the most powerful in the world. The president, the Constitution says, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." To carry out this responsibility, he or she presides over the executive branch of the federal government—a vast organization numbering several million people—and in addition has important legislative and judicial powers.
Despite the Constitutional provision that "all legislative powers" shall be vested in the Congress, the president, as the chief formulator of public policy, has a major legislative role. The president can veto any bill passed by Congress and, unless two-thirds in each house vote to override the veto, the bill does not become law. Much of the legislation dealt with by Congress is drafted at the initiative of the executive branch. In an annual and special messages to Congress, the president may propose legislation he or she believes is necessary. If Congress should adjourn without acting on those proposals, the president has the power to call it into special session. But, beyond all this, the president, as head of a political party and as principal executive officer of the U.S. government, is in a position to influence public opinion and thereby to influence the course of legislation in Congress. To improve their working relationships with Congress, presidents in recent years have set up a Congressional Liaison Office in the White House. Presidential aides keep abreast of all important legislative activities and try to persuade senators and representatives of both parties to support administration policies.
Among the president's constitutional powers is that of appointing important public officials; presidential nomination of federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another significant power is that of granting a full or conditional pardon to anyone convicted of breaking a federal law—except in a case of impeachment. The pardoning power has come to embrace the power to shorten prison terms and reduce fines.
Within the executive branch itself, the president has broad powers to manage national affairs and the workings of the federal government. The president can issue rules, regulations and instructions called executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon federal agencies. As commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States, the president may also call into federal service the state units of the National Guard. In times of war or national emergency, the Congress may grant the president even broader powers to manage the national economy and protect the security of the United States.
The president chooses the heads of all executive departments and agencies, together with hundreds of other high-ranking federal officials. The large majority of federal workers, however, are selected through the Civil Service system, in which appointment and promotion are based on ability and experience
POWERS IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Under the Constitution, the president is the federal official primarily responsible for the relations of the United States with foreign nations. Presidents appoint ambassadors, ministers and consuls—subject to confirmation by the Senate—and receive foreign ambassadors and other public officials. With the secretary of state, the president manages all official contacts with foreign governments. On occasion, the president may personally participate in summit conferences where chiefs of state meet for direct consultation. Thus, President Woodrow Wilson headed the American delegation to the Paris conference
at the end of World War I; President Franklin D. Roosevelt conferred with Allied leaders at sea, in Africa and in Asia during World War II; and every president since Roosevelt has met with world statesmen to discuss economic and political issues, and to reach bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Through the Department of State, the president is responsible for the protection of Americans abroad and of foreign nationals in the United States. Presidents decide whether to recognize new nations and new governments, and negotiate treaties with other nations, which are binding on the United States when approved by two-thirds of the Senate. The president may also negotiate "executive agreements" with foreign powers that are not subject to Senate confirmation.