October 22nd, 2008
03:14 PM ET
14 years ago

Palin takes heat for saying VP 'in charge' of the Senate


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. mei, fang

    Mrs. Palin, i will suggest you to be quiet from now on to avoid more troubles. the best of all for you is to go back to school to educate yourself. Please stop shotting out in the public. you have made so many so uncomfortable ever Mr. McCain picked you as his cheer leader. his action only approved his bad judgement.

    October 22, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. John

    This lady if you can call her that is the worst politition i have ever seen, her and McShame will lose, one way or another. President Obama debutes in 12 days, god I can not wait. Bye Bye Bushies, Bye bye McShame, palinil will fade away back to alaska and be forgotten where she belongs.

    October 22, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. dawn

    Just what we need! A vice president that doesn't know what the job entails – duh!

    October 22, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Greg in AR

    She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand because that the limit of her understanding of what this whole campaign is all about.

    Palin is Totaly UNQUALIFIED to be VP........

    October 22, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Michael

    Vote for Obama!! You don't have to like him. Just vote for him.

    Wrinkly and Winky need to go away. Wrinkly back to AZ and Winky back to Alaska.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. Rave

    Be incharge and do what in Senate?? Catwalks, Fashion shows?
    Go back to Alaska and watch over Russia for us please.. will ya

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Kate

    I was worried that my 10 year old son who doesn't like to read will never grow up to be successful in life .. then Sarah came along .. Thank you Sarah for giving me faith!!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Kat

    Nice Jacket.

    For $150K, you would think she would look a little less like Michael Jackson in the thriller video.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |

    I can't wait for the Republican party to toss her aside like they did Florida Secy of State (2000) Kathleen Harris, about whom it was said by a Republican that she was an "overbearing virago who should not have entered politics". Oddly, the same phrase applies to Palin. She is so uninformed.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Helen

    This woman is a joke. Where did McCain find her, in an igloo up in Alaska. She doesn't even have common sense. Have you listened to when she makes a statement. Maybe I am the stupid one but I can't understand what the hell she is saying.

    Vote Obama/Biden

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. TyWebb

    Every time the right-wing idiots jump on Biden for telling the truth, it's a "gaffe" and he is hammered incessantly. I wonder what ol' Rush Gasbag and Sean Flatulently will say about this? Nothing, I bet.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. just me

    To Mark... To quote one prominent (Democrat) Vice-President, John Garner, “the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit.”

    Relax people.
    It would be much easier to relax on Palin's ego and blunders IF McCain were not 72 years old. The fact that Palin could be our PRESIDENT is terrifying.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. FLvoter

    This women is crazy...... The reason she answered this question in a way that a 3rd grader would understand is because thats the only way she knows how to answer questions.......... And another thing..... What does GOD have to do with this election? Someone should tell her that GOD doesnt vote.....Its the american people that vote......

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Chris

    I can't understand how anyone in his or her right mind would be willing to elect her into any office, let alone voting for her to be VP, potentially having to take over for McCain if – god forbid – something happened to him as President. I mean, I can't possibly be the only one being scared to death about this prospect that will surely ruin the USA, our reputation in the world and quite possibly drag us into another bunch of wars and crises over the years to come. Heck, she'd probably offend a whole bunch of visiting foreign leaders just by being stupid.

    I also do not agree that it doesn't matter at all what the rest of the world thinks about us, our great country or about our choice for president. We simply cannot exist in isolation, just look at where it's been taking us since Bush took office. No wonder so many countries hate us for being arrogant and imposing our view on them, even our allies are getting fed up with the way we handle things. This we can no longer afford! Enough of the same old crap of the past years, enough of the lies, the smears and the attacks instead of presenting issues!

    Some smart person once said that "people will get the government they deserve" and I simply refuse to believe, even after what we did to ourselves, our economy, our troops and our standing in the world both as a major power as well as in the sciences, industry and ecomomy, that Bush/Palin is all we deserve.

    Come on people, we cannot possibly be THAT dumb... again!!!

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Morons

    Hey International Standards Engineer....

    If the jobs are in the US, then they get tax credit.

    If jobs are shipped overseas ala Cindy McCains company, then they don't.

    October 22, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Richard Miller

    st another reason why this Alaskan Queen Bimbo should not be elected and sent to Washington.....my third grader knows what the VP does.

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Christine

    "Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Palin, said..."

    How would you like to have THAT gig?! ha! Talk about pressure. I hope she's paid well.

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. mtanne

    Guess history, social and civic studies weren't her strong suite in school or maybe it was the opening day for moose hunting when they taught that.

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. dmnet

    okay, did everyone forget Biden's boo boo last week when he didn't even know the duties of the VP, everyone makes mistakes

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Elizabeth - Texas - Former Republican

    I would love to see Palin on "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader".

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |

    Y A W N

    So what?

    She misspoke. Yet again.

    B F D!!!

    Only low information voters like her anyway and she won't be the new VP–JOE BIDEN has dibs on that already.


    Y A W N

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Charlie Bradley

    Again the last sentence proves what a delusional whack job Palin is:

    "And I think I am fairly respected on both sides of the aisle" First off, she is so dumb she doesn't even know how to gramatically structure a sentence. "AND" is not a noun or pronoun. Next, she claims she's well respected on both sides of the aisle? That would be good, if we were say, on Pluto. The last time I checked we were on planet Earth 🙂

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. joe

    With Sarah Palin as John MCcain running mate, I certain that many Republicans might quietly vote for Obama to prevent their party and the US from further embarrasment to the international community

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Sandra, Oregon

    It's amazing that the republic faithful still believe in this woman; instead of applying for "Are you smarter than a 5th grader" she on a daily basis shows she isn't ready for the 3rd grade show yet.

    Does anyone else notice her "down home" fake accent is turned on at will; when she does CNN its toned down but on the debate she tried really hard to throw in that twangy overdone accent? I guess accent doesn't exactly go with the $150,000 wardrobe, guess theyr'e going for more than the lipstick on a pig.

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. Noah

    This is another episode of the ridiculous Liberal media. SHE WAS TALKING TO THIRD GRADERS! She was talking to them in a way they would understand. Joe Biden was talking to American Adults during the VP debate and he got the job of the VP COMPLETELY INCORRECT, and no one called him out!!! The media has gone mad. You are intellectually bankrupt

    October 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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