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. Joe who is not a plumber

    Well, in fairness....she can probably SEE the Senate from her office....so isn't that the same as being in charge?

    October 22, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. rc

    By her answers and the way she speaks, it sounds like it's the way the mccain campaign feeds campaign rhetoric to Palin... "in a way a third-grader could understand...."

    October 22, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Ann Brown

    She is forever putting her foot in her mouth. Does she have to have someone explain everything that comes out of her mouth? More of the same..............................................

    October 22, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. The Cosmos & McCain Rocks!!

    »HURRAH for 2 GREAT Americans=JOHN "GREAT man" MCCAIN + SARAH "So Wonderful" PALIN!!»HURRAH! »WAKE UP American VOTERS!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Justin Eilers

    I am trying to figure out why this is bias. It happened and it got reported. Please will someone explain. She obviously form the debate and this answer has no idea what the Vice President does.

    October 22, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. watching

    'SARAH THE SHOPPER'
    was asked this question 3 other times and gave a similar answer

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Minnie

    We need to take a closer look at the educational system in Alaska!

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. V.Z.Goth

    actually she is correct if looked upon from a historical view. The early v.p.'s used considerable influence. It is only in recent history that the v.p. has become somewhat limited.

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Frank

    Same for FOX, the most untrusted source of news in the world

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. FRANK

    dumb and dumber and soon to be history
    she probally fiqured a 3rd grader would not know she was telling another lie

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. confused miami

    somebody tell her please if you try to get hired for job you should know what the job is don't you think?

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    It is absurd that the VP choice on the Republican ticket doesn't know two weeks away from the election what the job actually entails.

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Accountant Guy

    This is pathetic. I guess this is more of those gotcha media questions!! Get out and Barack the Vote America!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. America demands answers

    Pople if you cant answer a question posted by a THIRD GRADER in three months and you are aspiring to become VP!!! its really sad for America

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Karen Walton

    Actually, I think Palin explained the role of VP the way she understands it, not to the 3rd grader! Tee Hee!

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. becky in Ohio

    This woman is DANGEROUS!
    She just can't help herself.

    October 22, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Joanna in Missouri

    It's been 6 weeks. Does she still not understand what the VP does?

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

    Ms. Lady was ask this question three/four times and give wrong answers to the questions. She is not too bright, so excuse her. When I heard this last night I changed the channel so my kids wouldn't here the nonsense she was saying. She is an idiot, and this is suppose VP for USA and probably PRESIDENT if McSane can't last. I just have to laugh.....another BUSH dump!!!!! Vote her and McSane in and this country will continue to nose dive in the ditch. LOL

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Rob - WA

    Stupid is as stupid does....

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

    Are You Smarter Than a 3rd Grader!! Apparently Not!! Get out and Barack the Vote America!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. MARY,FLORIDA

    TicToc TicToc. Palin's 15minutes is the longest 15 minutes in 15 minute history.

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

    She should be selling shoes!

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Pray for the Obamas

    Paging Dr. Phil, paging Dr. Phil...

    McPalin are loopy and OBSESSED WITH OBAMA. John and Sarah, you're drinking the koolaid and don't even know it! LOLOLOLOLOOLO :O!

    Obama/Biden 08/12!

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Rogers

    She was explaining in terms of a third grader because she thinks like a third grader.

    This stuff is really getting scary.

    October 22, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Stevo

    Countdown til Palin goes back to Alaska. T Minus 13 days!

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