If Reid Swenson has his way, Ronald Reagan won't be leaving the White House at the end of the year.
Swenson, a Salt Lake-based computer software business owner, feels Reagan is the ideal vice-presidential nominee to run with George Bush, and the businessman is coordinating efforts to get the nomination rolling before the Republican convention in August. He said Reagan may be Bush's only chance of winning the election.Although the process of nominating the president as a vice-presidential candidate has never been considered in this country, Swenson said that is only because the idea is not obvious to everyone.
"This would be an unexpected thing to try because it's never been done before," Swenson said. "But I like to talk politics a lot and I usually take a lot of flak for my political points of view because I'm usually a conservative person in my philosophy, but the consensus seems to be that people would like to see Ronald Reagan as vice president."
Swenson said the idea has not been openly suggested prior to this election "because most people have the misconception that the U.S. Constitution or a precedent prohibits the president from running as a vice-presidential candidate."
Quoting the Constitution's 22nd Amendment, Swenson said although the president cannot serve more than eight years, there is nothing that prohibits the president from serving as vice president.
However, Swenson said it could become a sticky political situation if Bush, as president, either died or was no longer able to act as president. This would put Reagan in line to serve as president _ but because he has already served the allotted eight years, the position would be passed to the Speaker of the House, James C. Wright, a Democrat. Swenson said this would not please Republicans.
Surprisingly, the idea came to Swenson recently while listening to talk-show host Johnny Carson's monologue, in which Carson poked fun at the notion of Reagan as a vice-presidential nominee. The idea didn't sound so far-fetched to Swenson.
He began to make telephone calls to people who could answer constitutional questions, such as Jim Bartleson, former director of the National Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, D.C. He told Swenson it might not be a probable action, but it would serve to set historical precedence.
Swenson, who earned a master's degree in health education from the University of Utah, said the Bush-Reagan ticket could be Bush's only chance to win the election, especially in the Western states.
"I think the real reason why the people of Utah feel left out of the election process is because by the time the primaries get to Utah, it's already a foregone conclusion who the candidates are going to be," Swenson said. "This might be a way to draw in the Western states and make the people of Utah feel a part of the election. Also, Utah people overwhelmingly love Ronald Reagan." Swenson has yet to present the idea to Bush or Reagan, but he feels Reagan would appreciate the chance to push some of his programs along for another term.
"We don't want to force anything on Reagan that he doesn't want," Swenson said. "But Reagan just might be George Bush's only winning play _ and people like people who find ways to win. Besides, the vice presidency is the next best thing to retirement anyway."