Obama jokingly delivered this answer during an interview with Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," in which the former commander-in-chief had laughed and smiled prior to and during his remarks.
Near the end of U.S. President Donald Trump's term in the White House, former U.S. President Barack Obama appeared in a televised interview for Stephen Colbert's program, "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
At the beginning of the November 2020 interview, Colbert posed a question to Obama, asking, "Did you ever look at something going on in the news and say, 'You know what this situation needs? A little Barack Obama.'"
In response, Obama laughed, then smiled while delivering an answer about the idea of "third term" and a "stand-in" who could be wearing an "earpiece."
The full question and answer went as follows:
COLBERT: On behalf of a lot of Americans, I think I can say with confidence that we missed you these last four years.
OBAMA: Thank you.
COLBERT: Did you miss you? Did you ever look at something going on in the news and say, "You know what this situation needs? A little Barack Obama."
OBAMA: I said this before. People would ask me, "Knowing what you know now, do you wish you had a third term?" And I used to say, "You know what? If I could make an arrangement where I had a stand-in, a front man or front woman, and they had an earpiece in and I was just in my basement in my sweats looking through the stuff, and then I could sort of deliver the lines, but somebody else was doing all the talking and ceremony, I'd be fine with that. Because I found the work fascinating. I mean, I write about the... even on my worst days, I found puzzling out, you know, these big, complicated, difficult issues, especially if you were working with some great people, to be professionally really satisfying. But I do not miss having to wear a tie every day.
These remarks appeared in a video on the official YouTube channel for "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," as well as in later uploads elsewhere on YouTube, TikTok, Truth Social, Facebook, and other social media and video platforms.
As can be witnessed in social media posts and video comments, many of the mentions of Obama's answer about a third term came with a claim that promoted the evidence-free idea, whether the users were joking or not, that said Obama was secretly spending his days "pulling the strings" of a "puppet" – a reference to U.S. President Joe Biden – to guide his own former vice president through his time in the White House.
'I Think if I Ran, I Could Win'
Separate from the remark made in the Colbert interview, Obama also at least one other time previously said he believed he could win again if the U.S. Constitution, which limits presidents to two terms, allowed him to run for a third term.
Obama's "I think if I ran, I could win" remark was delivered in somewhat of a joking manner in front of the African Union in Ethiopia on July 28, 2015.
According to Obama's speech, the purpose of his having mentioned the possibility of a third term was to try to drive a point home about the dangers of leaders staying in office for too long.