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. carol kesling

    so caribou barbie told drew griffin she does not want to give people like me " carol the retired grocery checker" a 2nd stimulas package, why???????? i get a 27.000.00 pension a year. after i pay 2735.00 in TAXES a year , medical , dental iget a whopping 22.000.00 a year to live on, I COULD USE A 2ND STIMULAS PACKAGE. this woman is as dumb as a bag of rocks!!!!!! its no wonder they dont let her speak in public often.... shes out there spewing LIE AFTER LIE. she needs to answer to troopergate first before she tells us what SHE WANTS TO DO!!!!!!!go home nowwwwwww !!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Sacto Joe

    Yeah, she was "talking down" to a third grader, but she was also building up her role in the Senate to much, much more than it really was.

    Maybe she doesn't think it's important to tell the truth to young people.

    October 22, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. CJ

    She needs to go back to Alaska, hopefully the people of Alaska will put her in her place.

    October 22, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Mike Austin

    It looks like Katie Couric isn't the only interviewer able to stump Palin.

    October 22, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Splurge

    Once this is over there should be an investigation into the way CNN covered Obama differently than they covered his opponents during both the general and primary elections. Shameless shills.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. proud army and navy mom

    Palin doesn't know what the job of VP entails, but I bet she can tell you the latest in the fashion world, judging by the extravagant shopping spree for her and her family.

    150,0000 dollars!!!!! Thatcould have paid my mortgage, car and a very nice vacation.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Wayne K

    Sarah Palin DOESN"T KNOW the answer to most things, she is in WAY over her head.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    NOW WE SEE WHY SHE WENT TO

    5 COLLEGES TO GET A 4 YEAR DEGREE.

    SHE IS DEFINITELY ANOTHER MCBUSH

    EXAMPLE OF VERY FAULTY JUDGMENT.

    ALL HIS APPOINTMENTS WOULD BE OF SIMILAR LOW IQ.

    ISN'T IT WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE & HOW WE GOT HERE.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. sine

    I'm quite embarrased at this point. If america chooses this travesty of a ticket i'm simply moving. How ignorant and uncurious can one person be.

    Obama 08

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. JB

    Democrat for McCain:

    I would really like to know how you think that Palin's "experience" is so vast as to outweigh everyone else on the ticket. Please explain to me how being the governor of a state with with a smaller population than any of the NYC boroughs individually for two years in any way qualifies a person to deal with the rigors of the presidency, which, by the way, demands a mastery of foreign policy that Palin has not shown. Now, on the intelligence issue, I'm not going to say that Palin isn't intelligent. She is simply uninformed. She has no knowledge of foreign policy or international relations. She has displayed very poor judgment in the exercise of power (and yes, it came during her ADULT life, not when she was 8). If there is any party that is a joke in this election, it is the Republican party.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. Doug M

    Obviously this third-grader is playing 'gotcha.' Shame on the liberal media for reporting Palin's words, exactly how she said it!

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. DX in TX

    I'm sure the Republicans will find a way to blame Barack Obama for this too. I can see the headlines now, Barack Obama switched Sarah Palin's cue cards....

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. WHAT!!!!

    This woman scares me more and more everyday. What is wrong with her? I think a third grader would comprehend, Sarah, if you would have said that the VP helps the President make important decisions for the country and advises on issues that the President may not be very knowledgeable in (see: Obama/Biden/foreign policy) and meets important persons of interest and travels to meet with foreign leaders either with the President or solo. The Constitution explicitly states that the VP is a member of the executive branch of government and only serves as a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. I guess she didn't learn that while spending six years getting a bachelor's degree in journalism. I'm sure she would love nothing more than abusing her executive power by "ruling the Senate." Everyone loves to throw the word socialism around with Obama, even though they most likely have no idea what the word means. So far Sarah has been found guilty of abusing her power, she wanted to find out how to ban a book from a public library, and said she isn't worried about the polls because "God will do the right thing" and "our pryer warriors are praying for us and America," can anyone say theocratical facism?

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. Jason

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

    As opposed to the way she normally answers policy questions which could be described as 'in a way that a third grader would answer them and NO-ONE could understand.'

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. Sally in Oregon

    Dear 3rd Graders;
    Please ask Sarah Palin questions she can understand.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. Obama08FL

    Democrat for McCain – You are also an idiot. I don't see Obama ever being investigated nor do I see Biden being investigated. McCain has been investigated for the Keating 5 Scandal, but was cleared with "LACK OF JUDGEMENT". Palin was found by her own republican party to abusing her power. Hmmm we have two morons who have been investigated compared to two who have not. Interesting!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. swimhard2787

    Ah, yes, so the man who graduated Magna cum Laude from Harvard isn't smart? You, Democrat for McCain, are not only wrong, but horribly misinformed.

    And the possibility of Palin becoming President, should McCain become unable to perform his duties? That scares me. You say Obama is a Socialist. Well, I'd take a Socialist over a Fascist any day.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Al

    When will the folks realize just how bad a choice John ("Country First") McCain made choosing this truthfully incompetent person as the VP choice...not exactly putting Country First or serves him well is displaying his decision making process. Please U.S. WAKE UP!

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Eric - Pittsburgh

    Ummm.. So did Biden at the VP debate. He said during the debate on his rant about Cheney that Article I of the Constitution covers the executive Branch (it is Article II).

    More importantly, the notion that the vice president can preside over the Senate only when there is a tie vote is simply wrong. Nor is it true that the only legislative involvement the vice president has is to break tie votes. The vice president is the president of the Senate, where he interprets the rules and can only be overridden by a vote of 60 senators.

    Where is the outrage over Biden not understanding what vice presidents do?

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Danny G

    QUOTE: "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."

    What a ridiculous cop out. She IS a third-grader. Can't believe she made the same misstatement she made in the VP debate, even after Biden corrected her comment. It would be scary to have hear a heartbeat away or to think of her finger on the trigger.

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Ramen Dude

    I'm siding with Sarah Palin on this! These third graders with their "gotcha" questions just gets on my nerve!!!

    /sarcasm

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Voice of Reason

    So – just for Gov. Palin, we'll rename it to "Are you smarter than a THIRD grader?"

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. S RODGERS IN RALEIGH, NC

    HER RESPONSE TO THAT QUESTION IS THE REASON I EARLY VOTED LAST WEEK!!!! OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Karen, Arkansas

    so much for this half-baked Alaskan. Say Bye Bye to the lower 48, Failin!

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Personal to John in UPST, NY:

    You truly need to start paying attention to what's going on and form YOUR OWN opinion, not repeating the Rush speaking points!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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