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. Nifty 60, female and white

    What is anyone expecting from her? Excuses....excuses....excuses. As if her role as VP could not have been explaind, even to a 3rd grader, without including how she would get in there and make policy. She either really does not know any beter, scary to say the least, or she envisions and will work towards this role that she would like to play. Either way, it is dangerous. Of course her female supporters think it's great because they feel empowered as women, I just don't get that. Even as a VP her intelligence leaves way to much to be desired for. I just hope that the Repucks can not steal this election as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stated. They have devised many ways to do so, and everyone that is voting for Obama should be aware of those tactics. America will sink if we get McWar/Falin in the White House. Do read todays Huffington Post.....Al Quaeda has endorsed McWar according to a US government monitoring entity of Al Quaeda's website. Frightening!!!

    Obama '08

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. concerned white privileged female citizen

    Add the 3 branches of government to the extremely long list of questions Palin must learn before becoming VP.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Axl

    150,000 wardrobe for the hockey mom and family on your donations and taxpayer money! GOP donors are furious and they should be. For that kind of money, they should have hired a law professor to teach her the constitution. Palin has made at least 4 recorded obvious mistakes when talking about the role of the vice president going back 7 weeks.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. carlos

    WOW!...talk about abuse of power.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Dan

    Democrats and liberal media are hypocrites.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. MikeT

    She's clueless...I bet the third graders were confused,,,They know she has no power over the senate except for breaking ties...Texan for Obama...come on Texas..we can join the Obama band wagon....

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Scott

    She doesn't even know what her role as VP would be?! You have got to be kidding me, thanks McCain for making my choice easier.

    Anyone but McCain/Palin '08.

    -Former republican turned democrat for Obama/Biden

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Gal, Ohio

    THIRTEEN DAYS

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Liberal Moron

    How clueless are you people anyway. Palin is smarter then Obama and much more experienced. You democrats just want to stay home on welfare. Your hatred for Bush has made you blind to the fact that Obama is going to take from you and give it to everyone else. He has stated he is going to raise aid to Africa and other 3rd world countries. You are paying for this. You remind me of the lemmings. Follow each other off the cliff. But then an Obama win may be the best thing for this country as at the end of 4 years no one will ever vote for a liberal again except Barbara Streisand and Rosie O'Donnell

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. r schier norwalk,ct

    There will be one bright side, if she (incredably) gets in.....we'll
    have something to laugh about every day, for the next four years....

    She gets funnier every time I see or hear her.....what a total yokel.....

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. rm

    @Terry:

    What in the world are you talking about!!! Biden was completley clear about the role of a Vice President. Like Palin, you just make junk up as you go along...

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. TennTuxx

    That's it! Somebody – EVERYBODY go and VOTE before this woman gets the key to the White House and Locks herself out!!!

    Why would she answer on a THIRD GRADE LEVEL??? She was talking to an ADULT...and if that's the case, she was insulting the person asking the question!!! MY third grader knew that the VP was the President of the Senate but really had no POWER!!!

    "They’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..."PLEASE – - It's very clear that this THIRD GRADE level is actually above her head!!!

    Like Accountant Guy said, once again she proves how clueless she is.

    I'm going out to VOTE RIGHT NOW!!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Common Sense

    Seriously, this isn't biased. The article is even stretched to call out Biden, but he got it right. He would be influential, and that's the role of a VP. She want's power because she has no influence.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Kenzie from TX

    Has anyone else noticed that when she is pressed against the wall, she will talk down to the person and do that weird hand thingy?

    Remeber in the Couric interview "when Putin rears his head into our airspace" exact same tone of speech and non verbal cues.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Peter Johnson

    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."

    Whatever Maria Comella's getting paid, it isn't enough...

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  16. lindapuma

    THIS IS NOT MISTATEMENT...THIS IS MISUNDERSTANDING! AS IN SHE DOES NOT OR MAYBE CAN NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT SHE READS.

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Jenny

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

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

    Sarah, don't you think that your kids would better attend school?

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

    poor ignorant woman

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Proud to be American

    You know John McCain should be ashamed of him self as Palin was his choice.... Country first yeah right. I faught Sarah as she should have told John NO.... versus making herself and women look bad this is just sad as the world is watching.... they are watching us make fools out of ourselves...

    just vote smartly: Obama and Biden 2008!

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. A. S. from OH

    I think we should ask a third grader what VP does. I bet third grader would know that answer better than her.. Perhaps next publicity stunt for the McSame campaign should be to put her on Fox's "Are you smarter than fifth grader?" I am sure she will win easily on that show..

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Accountant Guy

    I guess this means 3rd graders are in the tank for Obama also. How dare that 3rd grader as her more of those gotcha media questions!! Get out and Barack the vote America!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Shawn - GA

    It is a proven fact that Biden has made a greater number of mistakes on the campain trail. Also many are far worse than anything Palin has said.

    THAT is why it is bias, no one is calling out Biden even nearly as hard as they are calling out Palin.

    October 22, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Ron

    3 months ago she didnt even know what the job of the VP was. It is scary that people are actually going to vote for McCain because of Palin being on the ticket.

    We, as Americans, need to join together to make sure this woman is never near the position of being President. We owe this to our children and grandchildren.

    October 22, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. President Barack Obama

    Keeeep Talkin...... Keeeep Talkin....Your Doing Great!!!!

    What a Numbskull.... GREAT PICK JOHN BOY!!!

    Barack Your Vote!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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