“I do not envy Angela Merkel for not having term limits,” he said Sunday. “I have come to appreciate, at least in the United States, the wisdom of our founders. I think it’s healthy for a big, diverse country like ours to have some turnover. To use a phrase from basketball, to have some fresh legs come in.”

Obama has made similar pronouncements before. But the constitutional limits on the American presidency were all the more striking as he stood next to Merkel Sunday at a trade fair in Hannover, Germany. Merkel has been the German chancellor since 2005 and is reportedly mulling a campaign for a fourth term in 2017.

“I’m glad that Angela’s still sticking around, because I think the world benefits from her steady presence,” Obama said. “And she is to be admired for her remarkable endurance.”