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  Talk Elections
  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion
  Election What-ifs?
  Past Election What-ifs (US) (Moderators: Dalla Piccola, Apocrypha)
  No 2-term limit for presidents
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Author Topic: No 2-term limit for presidents  (Read 3758 times)
JRH1234
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« on: July 11, 2014, 11:02:55 pm »

I'll preface this by saying I am absolutely against term limits, especially for the president.  I can slightly see why it would be necessary for local elections where the incumbent is entrenched in a gerrymandered district so has no real opposition.  But the presidency of the U.S.?  This is the most heavily sought after position in the world.  There will always be at least one person moving heaven and earth to defeat the incumbent president.  Besides, being allowed to run for a 3rd term does not guarantee that the president will win a 3rd term.  I really hate the idea of a president becoming an automatic lame duck as soon as he takes his second inauguration. 

So how would elections have turned out if there was no 2-term limit?  For purposes of this post, I'm going to leave out elections from the 1800s, since there was no 2-term limit law at the time.  The presidents willingly stopped after 2 terms.  I will say that Washington would definitely have won a third term, but he chose not to seek one and I admire that.  At that point in time, there was a very real danger of the country making Washington a monarch, so it made sense for him to step down.  As for other nineteenth century presidents, Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant could possibly have won a 3rd term (Grant's presidency has been re-evaluated lately, he was better than what many historians in the early 20th century indicated). 

So how about 20th century?  TR would almost certainly have won in 1920, but he died in 1919, so I won't bother speculating on 1920 with TR.  He almost certainly wins as big a margin as Harding.   So then we go from the 1920s to America's only 4-peat president.  It was afterwards that the 2 term limit became law (why? He won all 4 elections fair and square and he led country through Great Depression and World War II.  Didn't this show why term limits are bad?).  Ok, the way I see it, there are 3 possible three-peat election victories after this stupid amendment-Eisenhower in 1960, Reagan in 1988, and Clinton in 2000.  How do these elections turn out?   

Well, I was going to post maps of the elections in 1960, 1988, and 2000, but I have absolutely no idea how to post these maps.  If this means my post will be deleted, I would greatly appreciate the moderator providing me with instructions on who to add a map to my post.   
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President Johnson
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2014, 03:22:59 pm »

I think all of the presidents would have won a third term.

Just for your information: In 1920, there was no term limit (the 22nd amendment was enacted in 1951).

In 1920, TR would likely have been the nominee, had he lived.



Former President Theodore Roosevelt/Senator Robert LaFayette 429 EV. 61.6%
Governor James M. Cox/Governor Al Amith 102 EV. 32.9%

So 1960, Eisenhower defeats JFK. JFK does better than Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, but still loses.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower/Vice President Richard Nixon 368 EV. 53.8%
Senator John F. Kennedy/Senator Lyndon B. Johnson 169 EV. 44.1%


In 1988, President Reagan easlily wins a third term:


President Ronald Reagan/Vice President George Bush 452 EV. 54.7%
Governor Michael Dukakis/Senator Llyod Bentson 86 EV. 42.6%

And 2000, Bill Clintons wins by a close margin:

President Bill Clinton/Vice President Al Gore 298 EV. 49.5%
Governor George W. Bush/Fmr. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney 240 EV. 47.9%

The election of 1952, with President Harry S. Truman, would be interesting, too.
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JRH1234
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 10:09:24 pm »

Thanks for your reply.  I'm going to have to figure out how to post maps on here.  I agree with your assessments for the most part, but I do have to point that I acknowledged that the 22nd amendment wasn't passed until FDR and I did acknowledge that TR would have been the nominee in 1920 and would have won easily.  I just didn't want anyone to have the impression that I thought there was always a legal barrier to a 3rd term. 

Anyway, one thing we have to consider with both Eisenhower and Reagan is their health and whether they would even have run again if they were allowed to.  And even if they did, would their health and age have been issues in the 3rd term campaign?  Yeah, they both had high approval ratings at the end of their presidencies, but that was based past performance.  People might have second thoughts about keeping them in longer. 

That being said, I do think that all 3 incumbents would have won.  The 1960 election would be biggest dilemma for me, because I like both Eisenhower and Kennedy (although I do acknowledge Eisenhower's error in overthrowing the Iranian government and installing the shah, and Kennedy's mistake with the Bay of Pigs invasion).  With the regards to the results, I think Kennedy might have carried New York against Eisenhower, and possibly a couple other states, but Eisenhower still wins by about the same margin that you listed.

As for Reagan in 1988, well, I'm a moderate liberal and I do think conservatives go a little overboard with their praise of Reagan.  On the other hand, oddly enough, I probably would have voted for Reagan in 80 and 84 (wasn't old enough to vote in either one).   Carter was an awful president and his vice-president would hardly make a strong candidate.  In 1988, however, with the revelations of the Iran-Contra affair and with Reagan's age really starting to show, it's hard to gauge whether he would have won if he did decide to run.  Then again, Dukakis was an awful candidate (what happened to Democratic party between Humphrey and Clinton?  They nominated some really awful candidates in between 1972 and 1988).  So with Reagan's popularity, Dukakis's ineptitude, and the economy still prosperous (recession didn't really start until 1991), Reagan would probably have won, but maybe not quite as big a margin as you see him getting. 

As for Clinton vs. Bush, I see Clinton winning by a bigger margin.  I think he wins New Hampshire (and I still have no idea how Gore lost that state).  I also think there's a very good chance of him carrying Ohio.  As for rest of south, tough to say.  Clinton ran well in south in 92 and 96, but would he have done well in that region in 2000 against a southern governor?  But Clinton does definitely win.  Now, if McCain gets nomination in 2000 and he runs against Clinton in 2000, that creates a different scenario altogether.
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NHLiberal
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 06:58:20 am »

I think all of the presidents would have won a third term.

Just for your information: In 1920, there was no term limit (the 22nd amendment was enacted in 1951).

In 1920, TR would likely have been the nominee, had he lived.



Former President Theodore Roosevelt/Senator Robert LaFayette 429 EV. 61.6%
Governor James M. Cox/Governor Al Amith 102 EV. 32.9%

So 1960, Eisenhower defeats JFK. JFK does better than Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, but still loses.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower/Vice President Richard Nixon 368 EV. 53.8%
Senator John F. Kennedy/Senator Lyndon B. Johnson 169 EV. 44.1%


In 1988, President Reagan easlily wins a third term:


President Ronald Reagan/Vice President George Bush 452 EV. 54.7%
Governor Michael Dukakis/Senator Llyod Bentson 86 EV. 42.6%

And 2000, Bill Clintons wins by a close margin:

President Bill Clinton/Vice President Al Gore 298 EV. 49.5%
Governor George W. Bush/Fmr. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney 240 EV. 47.9%

The election of 1952, with President Harry S. Truman, would be interesting, too.

Actually, Truman was grandfathered in based on when the 22nd was passed and he was eligible to run in 1952. In fact, he did, and he lost the NH primary to Kefauver, and then he announced he would not run for reelection. Remember that while Truman is rightly looked upon incredibly favorably now, he was incredibly unpopular toward the end of his presidency. So, if he somehow managed to win the nomination, he would have had no shot in the general, especially against Eisenhower.
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JRH1234
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2014, 07:40:51 pm »

Truman was unfairly blamed for "losing China" when it was really Chiang Kai-shek's incompetence that lost it.  So unfortunately, he had that hanging over him and when the Korean War went longer than expected, his popularity really crumbled.  So that's why I didn't include him, but you are right in that the 22nd Amendment did exempt him from the limit.

Even still, I think the amendment is stupid.  I don't see why the president should be limited to 2 terms.  If a person is that bad a president, he probably won't win a third term.  And as I pointed out with Eisenhower and Reagan, a lot of presidents, after serving 2 terms, become really stressed out and don't want to serve another term.  FDR is my favorite president, but I have to admit he did get a little cocky after his 1936 landslide.  If anyone wanted to correct an overreach by FDR, why not pass an amendment specifically requiring the Supreme Court to have 9 justices?  FDR's overreach was his Supreme Court packing plan, not his 2 extra terms. 

One other person we can speculate about is Obama, but it's a bit too early.  I'm ambivalent about him myself.  I think he passed too small a stimulus and I think he should have gone for universal health care rather than the cluster-f*** of the law that got passed.  There's still 2 years left in his term, so it's hard to speculate, but at this point, I don't think Obama could win a 3rd term. 

One thing to keep in mind though in all of our speculation is that president's usually do worse in their second term than their first, and that's largely because they're lame ducks after getting re-elected.  How many presidents would have had better second terms if there was the possibility of them running again?   
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badgate
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2014, 10:03:54 pm »

This is not entirely related, but I posted this series of maps in the Random Maps thread. It postulates that the 22nd Amendment allows for three terms.

From the same page, here is a series where the 22nd Amendment limits Presidents to two non-consecutive 6-year terms. https://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=21663.msg4171029#msg4171029
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NHI
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2014, 10:39:23 pm »


2016: Obama Runs
√ Gov. Chris Christie/Gov. Susana Martinez: 285 (50.3%)
Pres. Barack Obama/Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand: 253 (48.4%)
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JRH1234
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2014, 04:18:53 pm »

The Supreme Court packing plan was a mistake on the part of Franklin Roosevelt. I'll predict that such a plan will never become law in the United States in any of our lifetimes. Having an extra justice for everyone on the court who is 70 or older or whatever the supreme court packing plan says or said is just not the way the highest powers of the United States works. Sorry.


Yeah, I actually agree with you and that was the point of my earlier post.  FDR, while being one of my favorite presidents, did get a little cocky after his landslide victory with the Supreme Court issue.  My point was that after he died, they amended the Constitution to limit the president to 2 terms, which was a mistake.  What they should have done is amended the constitution to specifically set the number of Supreme Court justices to 9 (or 11 possibly, but definitely an odd number to avoid ties).  The Constitution does NOT state how many justices should be on the Supreme Court and that's a mistake. 
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TX Conservative Dem
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2014, 04:30:02 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?

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DKrol
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2014, 04:34:46 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?



No.
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TX Conservative Dem
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2014, 04:37:22 pm »

Hurricane Katrina, backlash against the GOP in the 2006 Midterms all but doomed Bush 43's 2nd term.

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badgate
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2014, 06:16:25 pm »


But, and this would make a fun little timeline, what if Bush left office, things go about the same, maybe a little worse in the economy. Maybe Libya fails. BUSH CHALLENGES OBAMA. HILARITY ENSUES.
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JRH1234
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2014, 08:53:20 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?



No, his approval ratings were hovering around Nixon and Carter levels.  I wanted to keep the scenarios somewhat realistic, which is why I also omitted Truman.  I stand by my original claim that the only realistic 3rd term possibilities if the 22nd amendment was never passed are Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton.  And while none of them were sure victors, they at least had high approval ratings when they left.  It's unrealistic to think of Bush winning in 2008. 
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JRH1234
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2014, 09:00:32 pm »

And while I'm on the subject, I want to point out how non-partisan the 2 term limit is.  As a liberal, I would have loved for Bush to be the Republican nominee in 2008.  He would have done far worse than McCain.  That's what people always overlook about term limits.  Just because someone can run again doesn't mean they'll win.  And for the conservatives reading this, if you think Obama is a bad president, wouldn't you want him running again?  After all, if he's really that bad, doesn't that guarantee a Republican victory? 

Plus, both liberals and conservatives have to come to terms with deep thought-if a president is popular enough to win a 3rd term, whether he's Democrat or Republican, maybe he (or she) isn't doing such a bad job.  Which is why I hate term limits.  What's wrong with re-electing someone doing a good job?  Such person will still have to go before the voters in another 4 years.  He won't be elected president for life.  Did the nation really suffer from FDR running for 4 terms?
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DKrol
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2014, 09:00:54 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?



No, his approval ratings were hovering around Nixon and Carter levels.  I wanted to keep the scenarios somewhat realistic, which is why I also omitted Truman.  I stand by my original claim that the only realistic 3rd term possibilities if the 22nd amendment was never passed are Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton.  And while none of them were sure victors, they at least had high approval ratings when they left.  It's unrealistic to think of Bush winning in 2008. 

It's unrealistic to even think of Bush running in 2008.
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JRH1234
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2014, 09:32:46 pm »
« Edited: July 16, 2014, 07:41:12 am by JRH1234 »

The Supreme Court packing plan was a mistake on the part of Franklin Roosevelt. I'll predict that such a plan will never become law in the United States in any of our lifetimes. Having an extra justice for everyone on the court who is 70 or older or whatever the supreme court packing plan says or said is just not the way the highest powers of the United States works. Sorry.


Yeah, I actually agree with you and that was the point of my earlier post.  FDR, while being one of my favorite presidents, did get a little cocky after his landslide victory with the Supreme Court issue.  My point was that after he died, they amended the Constitution to limit the president to 2 terms, which was a mistake.  What they should have done is amended the constitution to specifically set the number of Supreme Court justices to 9 (or 11 possibly, but definitely an odd number to avoid ties).  The Constitution does NOT state how many justices should be on the Supreme Court and that's a mistake.  
I think 5 is a good number for the Supreme Court. I really like the 22nd amendment. Whatever anyone thinks about term limits for Presidents I would not encourage a single term for President and Vice President no matter how long and short.

Well, we can quibble on the numbers of justices.  I would go with 9 because having more justices would mean more representation for the population.  On a different note, I would like to increase the size of the House.  435 people representing a nation of over 300 million? (and yes, I do realize that having more members creates the problems of more debates and arguments.  I don't have perfect solution).

But back to my original topic, I don't quite understand your post.  You say you like the 22nd amendment, but then you say you would not encourage a single term no matter how long or short.  So where exactly do you stand on term limits?  Just curious.  
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TX Conservative Dem
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2014, 10:47:21 am »

I think the 22nd amendment is wrong: they should have considered this option:

2 consecutive 4-year terms in a 12-year period: with the option of allowing former Presidents to run again after a 4-year break.
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JRH1234
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2014, 03:47:19 pm »

I think the 22nd amendment is wrong: they should have considered this option:

2 consecutive 4-year terms in a 12-year period: with the option of allowing former Presidents to run again after a 4-year break.


Well, again, the question is why?  What is the point of not allowing the president to run for 3 consecutive terms?  Again, if he's doing that bad a job, he probably won't win.  And if people are concerned about accumulation of power, a term limit in and of itself does nothing to increase or decrease the president's power.  A president would still have to get his budget approved by Congress, Congress would still have to approve his appointments, his veto could still be overridden with a 2/3 vote.  What do term limits accomplish? 
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TX Conservative Dem
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« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2014, 03:49:13 pm »

Term limits is used by those, who are bitter because they can't beat someone at the ballot box.

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Prince of Salem
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2014, 03:58:45 pm »

Term limits is used by those, who are bitter because they can't beat someone at the ballot box.


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WrathOfTheGods
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« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2014, 03:59:06 pm »

Term limits is used by those, who are bitter because they can't beat someone at the ballot box.


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JRH1234
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« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2014, 04:06:33 pm »
« Edited: July 18, 2014, 04:10:34 pm by JRH1234 »

Term limits is used by those, who are bitter because they can't beat someone at the ballot box.



That's a great point and I think it's true.  People who talk about term limits are usually conservatives who don't like Nancy Pelosi or liberals who don't like John Boehner.  I make no pretensions about liking John Boehner, but the thing is, I didn't like him being in Congress at all, just as many conservatives didn't like Nancy Pelosi from the beginning.  It's not as though these were universally acclaimed politicians who suddenly changed after being in office too long.  The fact is, in a democracy, people just have to deal with the fact that sometimes a person will get elected that you don't like.  There's never going to be a law mandating that only liberal candidates get elected, only conservative candidates get elected, only moderate candidates get elected, or only smart candidates get elected.  

Now, I do believe that our system should take steps to keep an incumbent's re-election from being automatic and keep an incumbent from having inherent advantages (in some jurisdictions, incumbents are held to lower campaign spending restrictions than a challenger).  So members of Congress and the President should have to go before the people every so often in a fairly contested election and not have inherent advantages over his/her challenger, but there should be no restrictions on someone repeatedly winning under those circumstances.  
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Jerseyrules
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« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2014, 02:54:44 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?



In otl 2008, no.  But think - if he was starting his second term with re-election in mind, he might have been more careful with policy decisions.  Maybe he visits following Katrina, sack Rumsfeld immediately, earlier surge in Iraq followed by the beginning of a drawdown of forces - maybe even all in time for the midterms.  Hell, maybe even do away with talk about bombing Iran.

With re-election in mind, many decisions made by both President and Congress in second terms of Presidents would be much, much different - Reagan and Iran-Contra, Clinton and impeachment, Bush and...everything.  And potentially we'd be looking at a very different Obama term, and speculating about a potential primary challenge from Clinton.  Why did she step down as SecState following his first term?  Is she trying to distance herself from the Administration in preparation to run in 2016 - whether Obama runs or not?
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JRH1234
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« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2014, 08:27:10 pm »

Is it possible Bush 43 would even tried to seek a 3rd term in 2008 ?



In otl 2008, no.  But think - if he was starting his second term with re-election in mind, he might have been more careful with policy decisions.  Maybe he visits following Katrina, sack Rumsfeld immediately, earlier surge in Iraq followed by the beginning of a drawdown of forces - maybe even all in time for the midterms.  Hell, maybe even do away with talk about bombing Iran.

With re-election in mind, many decisions made by both President and Congress in second terms of Presidents would be much, much different - Reagan and Iran-Contra, Clinton and impeachment, Bush and...everything.  And potentially we'd be looking at a very different Obama term, and speculating about a potential primary challenge from Clinton.  Why did she step down as SecState following his first term?  Is she trying to distance herself from the Administration in preparation to run in 2016 - whether Obama runs or not?


I made that same point in one of my earlier posts on this topic.  The 2-term limit turns every second term president into a lame duck, and thus severely curtails his influence.  I am totally opposed to the idea of term limits.  Repealing the 22nd amendment doesn't mean we'd be stuck with a president for life-he or she would still have to go before the voters every 4 years.  That right there is a term limit; they're called elections.  I fail to see any benefit to the country by limiting a president to only 2 terms. 

And besides, there's a very good chance that even if the 22nd amendment was repealed, not very many presidents would run a 3rd time anyway.  As I pointed out earlier, Eisenhower and Reagan were both in poor health towards the end of their 2nd terms, due to both age and the stress of the office.  I have very strong doubts that either would have run again even if they were allowed to.  But I just don't see why the option shouldn't be available. 
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« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2014, 04:38:33 pm »

No two term limit would also be intersting in 1976, when the Republicans again nominate Richard Nixon instead of the sitting president Gerald Ford.
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