October 22nd, 2008
03:14 PM ET
5 years ago

Palin takes heat for saying VP 'in charge' of the Senate

CNN

Watch Palin's comments on KUSA Wednesday.

(CNN) – Sarah Palin is taking heat Wednesday for appearing to overstate the role of vice president, saying in a recent interview that she would be "in charge of the Senate" should John McCain win the White House.

The comments came in an interview with Colorado TV station KUSA in response to a third-grader's question, "What does the Vice President do?”

"[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom," she said.

The comments have drawn criticism from Democrats and liberal blogs which note the actual role of the vice president when it comes to the Senate is simply to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event of a stalemate. According to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president is the "President" of the Senate, but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber.

Donald Ritchie, a historian in the Senate Historical Office told CNN that Palin's comment was an "overstatement" of what her role would be.

"The vice president is the ceremonial officer of the Senate and has certain ceremonial functions including swearing in new senators and can vote to break a tie," he said. "It’s a relatively limited role. It's evolved into a neutral presiding officer of the Senate.

Ritchie also noted recent vice presidents have played a behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration's policies, but called it "somewhat limited."

"It's not comparable to the Speaker of the House who is certainly in charge of the House," he said. "The slogan that political scientists use is that the House is ruled by the chair and the Senate is ruled by the floor…the senators are in charge of the Senate."

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Palin, said the Alaska governor was simply answering the question in a way a third-grader could understand.

"Governor Palin was responding to a third grader's inquiry," she said. "She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand that the vice-president is also president of the U.S. Senate."

In an interview with CBS earlier this month, Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden also said he hoped to play an influential role in the legislative branch if Barack Obama wins the White House.

"I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person actually implementing Barack Obama's policy. You gotta get the Congress to go along with it," he said. "And it's presumptuous to say, but I know it pretty well. And I think I am fairly respected on both sides of the aisle."


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (1,202 Responses)
  1. Accountant Guy

    Once again she proves how absolutely clueless she is. If you and McBush truly want to put Country First, then pack your bags and go back to Alaska!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. McCain Invented the BlackBerry, Palin Invented the Manure Spreader

    Not only is Sarah Palin killing McCain's campaign, she's killing the Republican Party (though they've done themselves no favors in recent years).

    She's ensuring that she not only ruins GOP chances in this election, but in 2012 as well, when she divides the party in half in the primary and blows it up in the general election.

    A new Democratic majority is rising.

    October 22, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Blue By You

    Biden did not say he was going to run the agenda of the Senate, though. THIS WOMAN IS NOT QUALIFIED. BACK TO ALASKA!

    October 22, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Commonwealth of Virginia

    She's a dummy. She doesn't even know what the role of the VP is. She does not need to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. She needs to watch the John Adams series on HBO so she can have a clue.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 22, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. ssanbra

    pitiful.

    October 22, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Cindy Nelson

    It just smacks again on why she's unqualified. Nothing else to say. She's unqualified, and power hungry.~ Down right fearful to think that they could win. :(

    October 22, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Bible Spice

    A 3rd grader couldnt understand "I break the tie-votes"?
    Sorry. She is not as smart as a 3rd grader.
    LOL

    October 22, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Douglas Stambler

    Sarah Palin is getting the publicity that she wants, and I don't understand why people spend so much time trying to discredit her. Focus on the issues, people...taxes, education, health care, foreign policy, the economy, the environment.

    October 22, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Fact Check

    Clueless, absolutely clueless... Sarah and John is the worst candidates in the modern century.

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. She has an IQ of 15

    She only can give Speechs of hate, nothing else.

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  11. leapfrog

    If she's answering in a way a third grader understands, and she didn't answer correctly, then clearly she has less than a third grade understanding of the position of vice-president. Does anyone really want someone like that in the position?

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. Kate

    I no longer have adequate words to express my disdain for this woman.

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. GA4OBAMA

    there should be a requirement that all the candidates read the constitution and then take a test on it before being running for potus and vp.

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. Eric Arthur Blair

    "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength".

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. independent for Obama

    and she can see russia from her backyard. She's a joke.

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. Bob Indianapolis IN

    "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some [this is the point where her eyes go wide and she seems to realize the trouble she's in ] ... people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, ah, education like such as in South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for our children."
    Theenk you! Theenk you very much!

    October 22, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. stephanie

    Who are the people who are actually showing up to hear her speak? to observe her $150,000 wardrobe? All the coutour int he world cannot disguise this woman's ignorance, lack of intellectual curiosity or dishonorable leadership. I guess you can put Prada on redneck, and it's still a redneck.

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Emily

    Looks like Caribou Barbie intends grabbing up more power than
    even Dick Cheney. God help us all of this self-serving ignorant
    woman gets into a position of power in this country.

    Obama/Biden 2998

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. YES WE CAN

    Wait, Palin is inept? You don't say.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for her, everyone. Wake up!

    It's beyond terrifying that she could be in the White House. It's like a bad sci-fi movie.

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. GoBama!

    Palin is just pitiful.

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. Stephanie

    "Governor Palin was responding to a third grader's inquiry," she said. "She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand that the vice-president is also president of the U.S. Senate."

    So, Gov. Palin is now lying to everyone in the US, including third graders.

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. liz

    The idiot STILL doesn't know what job she is running for?!?! Biden explained it to her a MONTH ago!

    How on earth can people support this moron?

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Fed Up!

    If the woman doesn't know what a VP does, then WHY ON EARTH IS SHE running for VP????

    Dear God can she get any DUMBER??
    I mean honeslty, if i have had said that being a tribunal notary meant cleaning toilets i would have never gotten the job!!

    I am sick and appalled that ANY AMERICAN is giving her the time of day!!

    She is AS DUMB AS THEY COME

    OBAMA -BIDEN!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Mark G

    Grabbing more power for her to abuse...It's already starting...and she hasn't been elected yet. Should be a warning sign....

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. Terry

    Why didn't you report on how Biden (during the debate) had no clue as to what a VP's responsibilities are?

    If you were any more in the tank you would be called Rommell.

    October 22, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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