‘My country has in its wisdom contrived for methe most insignificant office that the invention ofman ever contrived or his imagination conceived’John Adams (1735-1826)
Vice President• Chosen by Presidential candidates before the election torun on a ‘joint-ticket’. A ‘balanced ticket’ is seen as crucial.Why did Obama & McCain pick their running mates?• Balance might be in terms of: Experience, Ideology, Age,Region. Are Race and Gender becoming important now?
Vice President1. Presiding Officer of Senate, and can cast tie-breaking vote. Cheneycast vote to protect Bush’s $1.6 bn tax-cut.2. Counts and announces the result of the Electoral College votes. So inJan ‘01, Al Gore had to announce his own defeat.3. Most important role: assumes presidency if the president resigns,dies, or is removed from office. This has happened nine times. Theinsignificant powers of the office, coupled with this potentialimportance led the vice-president, John Adams to remark: ‘In this Iam nothing; but I may be everything4. Becomes acting president is declared, or declares himself, disabled.Cheney was President for two hours in 2002 when George W Bushwas sedated for medical tests.
Increasing Powers?• President in waiting? True until 12th Amendement in 1804 which did not appointPresidential runner-up as VP. However, since Eisenhower’s presidency the role hasagain become a breeding ground for Presidents, and seen many more distinguishedpoliticians battle for the role. Why?• Role has increased in significance. Presidents increasingly give VPs moreresponsibilities and some have become advisors. Since Carter-Mondale all VPs nowsee daily intelligence briefing, and all have had an office in the West Wing.• Cheney (former Congressman) has acted as legislative liaison with Congress• VPs now major spokesperson for the administration. Gore was a regular face at thepodium on environmental issues, and Cheney on foreign policy.• VP is also a major fundraiser.• Can play the Washington-insider role, guiding the president around the potentialpitfalls of Washington politics (e.g Mondale, Bush Sr, Gore and Cheney)
‘ In this I am nothing; but I may be everything.’John Adams (1735-1826)