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. ChrisB

    Can you spell "POTATOE", Sarah?

    (Yes, I misspelled it on purpose. Why? Think back to 1992... Who was Daddy Bush's running mate back then? Oh, yeah, that guy...)

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. R.M.

    The drumroll.... da.... da .... da.....du....Dum.....DUMB!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. Diane

    She was too busy shopping at Saks to read the Constitution.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Truth Be Told

    "She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand that the vice-president is also president of the U.S. Senate."

    she even lies to a third-grader! i wonder if that's exactly what she does with her own children. twist the facts so they'll understand better.

    no wonder her campaign is tanking and she's dragging mccain with her. serves them right.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. seriously people?

    Are we being punked? Can she go home now please. The joke isn't funny anymore. Palin is just a power hungry self serving moran.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Concerned Voter

    So, the Palin nightmare continues...I pray that I will wake up on November 4th to find Barack Obama as the President of the United States.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. richnett

    Remember, after Mrs. Palin was added to the ticket, she said and its on a video somewhere, she did not know what a VP did. What do you think? The proof is in the question and now the answer.
    LOL

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Too bad she cannot see Cuba from her window, she does not even know that Fidel Castro is no longer in power in Cuba.
    Google Bridge to Wasilla (the bridge to somewhere)
    At least the other bridge went to an airport!~

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Women for Obama/Biden

    To Terry>>>>
    I am so sad that people like you even blog among us...when smart people are talking you guys need to listen pay attention and learn.Joe Biden gave the best answer in years to those that are confused about a VP's jo..He even chastised Vp Dick Cheney for his uncontitutional behavior and claims in senate..I thought Sarah learned from there its obvious she didnt. Given the 4TH CHANCE SHE STILL DIDNT GET IT

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. barbara

    Isn't this the 2nd or 3rd time she has been asked the same question? I don't think she has gotten it right yet.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Former Republican

    SARAH'S IQ MATCHES MCSAME'S HONOR, BOTH PRETTY LOW.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. wowow.

    lol
    some of you guy are going a bit overboard with this.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. ironwolv

    Liberal Bias? She has been asked the same question 4 times and has been wrong 4 times, how is that biased? By the way, Joe Biden did answer the question about a VP's role, he did not go into the great detail maybe you were looking for, because the question did not require fine detail. But when you completely misstate the role itself 4 times, you have a problem. I swear the 12 day wait is killing me.

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Positive in NC

    Keep in mind, this isn't just an error on her part–she means it!

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

    And you WONDER WHY they keep her so protected from the media...she obviously needs to learn how to speak to the media first...

    October 22, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. OBAMA MAMA

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!!!!

    This is what you will get from the McCain/Palin Ticket.

    WAKE UP AMERICA AND VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Gary W

    There is no need for her to talk down to 3rd graders, telling them the truth is acceptable. But I suspect she was not talking down to their level, she was answering the question to the best of her limited ability.

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Deb in Texas

    This is a disgrace for a Vice-Presidential candidate to discribe the duties of a vice-president in error to a 3rd grader. One thing we must all do is not tell the young children of our future WRONG ANSWERS. What is it going to take for the Republican Party to realize that this woman is from ANOTHER CLOUD. This woman is NOT INTELLECTUALLY SOUND, PERIOD.

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. tony

    Has anyone even brought the subject of involvememnt with AIP (alaska Independent Party

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. The World for Obama

    UNQUALIFIED.

    UNACCEPTABLE.

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. carlos

    To KH ...there's a difference between a gaffe and not knowing, biden gaffes, but we all know he knows the constitution......Palin doesn't gaffe she just doesn't know nothing about nothing

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. N.S of Huntsville, Al

    Pailns mishaps are MCCAIN fault. I don't blame Pailn anymore just MCCAIN. He should snatch every microphone from her hand and put tape around her mouth. This is all MCCAINS fault he has shown the entire world that he can't lead this great country of ours, because he can't even lead his own party.

    MCCAIN is the head of the ticke, and every time PAILN messes up, reportes should ask JOHN the big POW what the hell was he thinking when he picked PAILN.

    MY FRIENDS LETS LEAVE PAILN ALONE FOR THE NEXT 2 WEEKS AND LETS MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T PUT THAT OLD TIMER MCCAIN IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!!! AND LET'S MAKE SURE HE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR RUNNING THE DIRTIEST CAMPAIGN IN HISTORY AND LETS ALSO SEND PAILN HOME SO SHE CAN SPEND TIME WITH HER BEAUTIFUL KIDS. THATS WHAT AMERICA WANTS AND THATS WHAT AMERICA NEEDS, AND THATS WHY I'M VOTING FOR OBAMA/BIDEN.

    AND I'M A TRUE AMERICAN WHO APPROVES THIS MESSAGE

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. adg

    I am not as smart as my husband. (not that I would admidt that to him) however! even I understand what a vps job is .and she makes me look very very smart!!! I like looking smart ! thanks Palin your doing a great Job !!!! Vote early!!! I voted Obama!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Tiffany

    When she was asked by a reporter months ago if she would want to be VP her reply...."What does the VP do?" Apparently, no one ever gave her the answer.

    Obama/Biden

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. BJ

    Forgot to mention that Kevin the alleged father of Bristol Palin's unbnorn child is BLACK.

    October 22, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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