October 22nd, 2008
03:14 PM ET
6 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. Bubba

    Heard as she is walking back to Alaska on November 5, "Hey, can I at least keep the clothes?"

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. PLEASE TELL HER TO GO HOME IN DISGRACE

    Not to worry Sarah. GOD will fix it!!

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. rin

    the whole VP pick of her was a misspeak

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. monica

    Once again she opens her mouth and her ignorance shows!

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. valerie

    I really feel for Palin. Mc Cain (republican party) used this women, playing a political game – knowing that she was not ready. People who vote republican are sick people. May God bless America.

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Gizmo65

    And she thinks she is so much more experienced than Barack Obama?

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. cma

    Read the Constitution – the VP is PRESIDENT of the Senate!!!! Duh, She's right!

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Tom

    Enough with the liberal bias, CNN! This was yesterday's non-story. Why are you bringing it up again today? Drew Griffin admitted the bias yesterday in his interview with Palin, and yet you continue to chug along doing everything and anything you can to ensure an Obama victory. I am shocked he isn't up 30 points in the polls!

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Amy

    IDIOT

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. PUMBU

    SERIOUSLY, CAN SHE GET DUMBER?

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Ha ha

    Remember, it was only a couple months ago she didnt know what the VP did.... at least shes progressing.

    Obama Biden 08

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. RWG

    Open mouth, insert the Consitution!

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. John McPalin

    This Palin-McCain ticket (Yes I said Palin-McCain) is dumber than a bag of rocks.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Jeremy

    Bob,

    What does your comment have to do with the fact that Palin cannot correctly define what her job duties as VP should include? This is not media bias, just watch the video...she speaks for herself.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. Jann in Denver

    The McCain camp was right to muzzle her from the beginning. Every time she opens her mouth, something dumb comes out.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. Tom

    It is biased because if Biden had said it, it would never have been reported. Just ask Drew Griffin!

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Biff

    been running for the job that she does not know the role of....

    rrrriiiiiiiiiiiight...

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Film Professor

    Palin said this because she has a third grader's understanding of US History and civics.

    My 5th grader knows more than this dimwitted woman.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Karen - Philly

    Palin's worn me down to the point of being speechless.

    Done commenting, can't take anymore nonsense, I have a headache.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. SoCal

    I thought the main responsability of the VP is to wink at the camera during interviews...

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Chi4Obama

    Sarah Palin,
    The gift that keeps on giving....to Democrats.

    Barack the Vote
    America Unified in '08.

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Indoobedly

    lol this woman is a goof! but this doesnt surprise me because she said it herself in a July 31st interview when she was being considered as a possible VP candiate that. she's not sure if she was interested she doesnt no exactly what a vice president does she wanted to find that out first. that was 30days prior to her being selected at mcsains running mate.

    and i guess 4 months later she still doesnt know

    October 22, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Erik on Wall St.

    (Rainman voice on) Very mavericky, yeah definitely very mavericky....Sarah's so sparkley – like a holiday, very sparkley

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Tecno Geek

    What a joke. Do us all a favor go back to monitoring Russia from your snow mobile.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Debbie in Cali

    Are we surprised? I listened to excerpts of her interview with Drew Griffin and I was astonished. I could not believe that she is running for the Vice President of the United States of America! How did she get this far? I could not understand anything she was saying. I kept listening and I just didn’t get it. I felt clueless and then realized it wasn’t me! LOL!

    VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN!!

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49