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. Lauran

    After all, she did ask what the VP does? The funny thing is the conservatives are the ones who believe this isn't the place for on job training

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. Fighting to elect Obama Since he is must be politically correct!

    Sarah also billed her great ol' State of Alaska for her kids airfares, meals and lodging and doctored up the receipts to make it appear that the kids were on Official State Business! What a crock of Bull. The previous Alaskan Governor had school age kids too and never billed the state a single dime for his kids.

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. DJK

    Another hit job on Governor Palin fir answering a third grader's question in a way that a third grader can understand.

    And yet CNN still isn't reporting that Joe Biden said Obama's election would prompt an international crisis because he is untested and inexperienced.

    CNN you are a disgusting, shameful, biased source of "news."

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Jill-IN

    Third Graders can understand the facts – simply state what the VP can do and what he is not or cannot do. They will get it. If Palin distorts the true facts for 3rd graders, what does she do for us grown up folks.

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Get Real

    Do not lie to our children! This is why Civics needs to be taught in our schools so kids do not grow up and learn about our country's constitution from politicians that went to 5 schools in 6 years to get a journalism degree and somehow think they are ready to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

    Educate American kids correctly and they will not grow up ignorant to what 'Real America' truly stands for!

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Ron J

    Uh, guys, she was talking to a THIRD GRADER. Terms like "President of the Senate" which the VP is (check your constitution) woould have been lost on a young mind. She has kids and she knows how to talk to kids. And yes, Biden after working in the Senate for how many years now?! Doesn't have a clue. Not too much press on that, of course.

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. sabuc for Obama

    She had already said she didnt know what the VP does so this should not be a surprise to anybody.

    October 22, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. ShirleyY - Seattle

    SARAH PALIN IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, NOT KNOWING WHAT A VP POSITION. I AM NOT RUNNING FOR VP AND I KNOW THE DUTIES OF A VP.

    THIS IS A SAD DAY FOR AMERICA, WE PICK WHO IS BEST BASED ON RACE AND CHARACTER, INSTEAD OF SUBSTANCE.

    IF SHE IS UNAWARE OF A VP POSITION, SHE WILL MAKE SOME SERIOUS AND BAD JUDGEMENT AND IT WILL HARM ALL AMERICANS.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. AA

    Oh I forgot to ask the GOP paid supporters that post here...

    How are you enjoying how your campaign donations are being spent!

    I have to lie down, laughter is tiring.

    Peace.

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

    Wow, again and again she proves she is not qualified for the position of VP, let along, possible taking the role of President if something was to happen to McCain. To top it off, now the spin is she was trying to answer this on a third grade level????? I guess when she stated the same thing during the debate, she was then answering on a third grade level also. Give me a break...I can't wait till Nov 5th.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. Anthony, Ontario

    "tie-braking"? C'mon, CNN, use your spell-checker please.

    Come to think of it, though, Palin probably considers her Senate role to be putting the brakes on the Liberal agenda. LOL.

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

    oops she did it again.

    sarah palin please go away.

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

    Why is this news? `The VP is in charge of the Senate' is a perfectly acceptable way to paraphrase (in a way understandable to a third grader) the sentence `the VP presides over the Senate', which is a statement of fact. Come on, just because liberal bloggers are making a big deal out of something doesn't mean it is newsworthy. The things conservative bloggers make a big deal about are obviously not always newsworthy.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. The Cosmos & McCain Rocks!!

    »SARAH PALIN=So clever!So Charismatic!So Interesting!=USA next Vice-President. Of course.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Love My USA/Do You?

    I am so sick of CCN and its BIASe reporting. Why don't they print the dumb stupid remarks of Biden. "Three letter word" JOBS....
    The only smart thing he said is that BO is not redy to be president, by his remarks, if BO is elected . "there will be a challenge from other countries within six months."
    Sure Joe tell the world how weak BO is for president. Stupid remarks from someone who has been in politics for over 30 years.

    Black Democrat voting straight REPUBLICAN......

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. OS

    NOW WE ALL KNOW WHY McCAIN CAMPAIGN DOES NOT WANT HER TO GIVE INTERVIEWS AND IS HIDING FROM THE MEDIA – SHE FORGOT TO READ THE VP'S JOB POSTING.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. TerryMD

    This woman is a complete imbecile. Get her a one way ticket back to Alaska for Nov. 5.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Independent

    Palin is getting more interesting, expecially after SNL show....wow SHE is ROCK!

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

    When I heard this, I could not stop laughing. You would have thought that she would have done a little bit of research into the position by now, but hey, God is going to make her Vice-President (maybe President) so what do I know. I supported John Edwards and his $400 haircut. He's a piker compared to Palin's $250,000 hair, make-up and clothing expenditures. Think big.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Credit Card Republicans

    She wants the same powers Cheney has had for 8 yrs.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Former Hillary supporter

    Just when you think you've heard it all. LOL. My god.. her stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. sara.b

    I'm not surprised.She needs to go back to Alaska.

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

    She may have "overstated" her role should the McCain Paulin ticket win...but the spelling on "braker" is wrong in this article...Ever heard of spell check!

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Anna, VA

    I don't think any women are voting for her. She is a disgrace, and we find it offensive that McCain picked her just to pander to us. She is unintelligent and ignorant

    I am a Republican woman in Virginia, voting Democrat for the first time ever.

    That's what you get, McCain, for such an offensive choice as VP

    October 22, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. James in Rochester

    "She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand."

    This would be because she only understands things at a third-grade level herself. Maybe she can call Dan Quayle to help her when the kids ask a spelling question.

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