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. Kate

    what is it with Palin and 3rd graders .. she gave a shout-out to them during the debate and now they are sending questions? How come it's not the 5th graders .. too high?

    October 22, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. SoCal

    I'm looking forward to her going back to that very pro-america part of the country named Wasilla...

    October 22, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. MEP

    She answers like a third -grader because she thinks like one.

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. JD

    She answers to a "higher law" than the US Constitution.

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. pat napolitano

    This is a perfect example of how little this woman knows about our government. There is more to just attacking people (which is her forte) in being a v.p. You are the buffer between the president and the rest of the world and sometimes you have to play nice. Her governorship has not prepared her for this position and that is why Mc Cain is having a hard time as people can see between the lines. I think she has had a bye with the press as no one has asked her important questions like why she built the road to nowhere in her state, like why she allowed the sports complex to be built on land they did not own resulting in a lawsuit by the landowner in the amt of 150,000 which has put the town in debt for the first time. Will her husband be going into her meeting as v.p even the security ones? Will her family be going to other nations when she has to travel. These are the questions I want answered and so do many others.
    Oh, by the way, is taking the money for the bridge and giving to the people of Alaska 'SOCIALISM/"?

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Marilou Forsberg

    For the Love of God, Sarah......shut up.

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Peter

    I find if completely ludicrous that they would make an issue of this when Obama said there were 57 states and Biden recently stated that we would have an international crisis in the first six months of the Obama presidency (God help us if his is the president). Isn't the latter more newsworthy than a mistake on the responsibilities of the VP?

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. shannon

    Questioning if certain actions or statements by Palin/McCain are calculated, with the goal being failure. It appears in some cases that the Republicans are trying to loose the election while trying to keep a straight face. With the issues at hand the President will have terribly difficult uphill road to climb. If they step aside now they can blame future issues on the Democrats and return to office next term.....

    October 22, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. sabrina01

    Please don't pretend you are surprised

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. Rorschach

    Sadly, Palin probably told those kids what she believes. Remember, she did say early on that she needed someone to explain to her exactly what the Vice President actually does.

    Go on home, Sarah.

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |

    $$$ 15o,ooo??? Sorry i forgot that she has to look good because she

    NO BRAIN!!!

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    @ "DEMOCRAT FOR MCCAIN"........right, you expect us to believe that a true Democrat would vote for McCain???

    Anyone with 1/2 a brain would NOT VOTE FOR MCCAIN! Today the polls show that 55%..........again........55% of Americans do not believe Palin is qualified to be president.

    And once again, Palin, give us, a reason for NOT voting for MCCAIN!
    She does not seem to understand what the vice president's role is! Someone please inform this person!

    The media has not covered ALL the other reasons why we should NOT VOTE FOR MCCAIN BECAUSE OF PALIN:

    Todd Palin was a member of the Alaska Independent Party 1994-2002.

    Sarah Palin spoke at the convention for the Alaska Independent Party.


    So, yeah, people with 1/2 a brain WILL NOT VOTE FOR MCCAIN/PALIN.


    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Dale

    Sorry, she has been quizzed on what the duties and responsibilites of the VP position are about 3 or 4 times already. And she has provided the wrong answers to all these queries. She touts her executive experience and feels she has the necessary skills to be the VP and potentially the POTUS. But she doesn't have the job description quite right, yet, for the VP position. If I was interviewing her for a position with my company and she did not fully understand the duties and responsibilities of the position, I would not be hiring her.

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. iamwoman

    Are you suprised? She is supporting non education in her own family. Bristol Palin's boyfriend has
    quit high school to work in the oil field and be a dad. Wrong move.

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Peggy - TX

    I like Paklin’s gutsy style and admire her for having five kids, but I listened carefully to Palin in her recent CNN interview when she said that the media has been unfair to her compared to Biden and when on the stump she reminded voters not to dismiss women voters and that he was only side with a female on the ticket. My impression is that the media is indeed hard on her, but not because she is a woman, rather because when she strays from her script, she reveals that she is not too bright, she is not well informed, and she is scary naive about important issues. This is much different then Biden, whose gaffes are just poor language that can be easily missconstrued, but, unlike Palin, Biden never slips in a manner that indicates that he is a fake. Biden has not only proven that not only is he smart and well informed, he is also has a track record showing he is a capable politician with solid values.

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. K L

    So many hypocrites...

    October 22, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Ann

    I agree that I would laugh if it wasn't so pathetic. This woman could actually be our leader one day. I shudder at the thought!

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Obama/Biden Girl

    Wondering,why some of us still want to vote Mcain/Palin ticket, afterall she proves everyday that she isnt qualified for holding the VP position.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Guy

    When applying for a job, you should be aware of what the duties are... unless you're an airhead and have no idea what you are doing.

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Neal

    Wow. What a woman!

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. John in Virginia

    Bwwaaahahaahahahaaaaaa!!! More executive experience huh? LOL! Is she going as the clown that she is for Halloween this year?

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. miken

    The VP is the president of the senate – says so in the constitution. Why are all the obamamaniacs chargeing Palin with stupidity when she has it clearly correct. Did anyone bother to consider the answer Biden gave in the VP debate about the VP role – he was clearly wrong. This article is fooling only foolish people who don't know the facts. Shame on CNN.

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. ms j

    You know what? I bet George Bush and Cheney both laugh at McCain's Judgement when McCain chose Sarah Palin!

    Also, will someone please answer these questions for me?
    1. Does God promote Confusion, Strife and Division among His Creation for personal gain?
    2. Does God Lie and then try to convince His Creation to BELIEVE a Lie?
    3. Does God LOVE one group of people and CONDEMN another?
    4. Does God use anyone (ie.'Joe the Plumber") to manipulate his purpose for selfish gain?
    5. Does God use "trickery" and deception in order that His purpose for our lives are fulfilled?
    6. Does God attack and slander the character of any individual for the sole purpose of "edifying" or exhorting another ?

    And last, but not Least,
    7. Does Palin have a "position" with God that others are not "fortunate" enough to have? Sounds like "It's all about Sarah to me!

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. Stacey

    Let's see – a third grader asks a legitimate question only to get a kindergarten answer. As I've said many times, Sarah Palin has absolutely no clue what she's talking about. The good thing is that we have less than two more weeks of torture from this woman; then she can return to the Alaskan tundra, hopefully for good.

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Joseph

    Do we really want someone in this position that has no clue of what the office that she is running for actually does? It seems to me that America would be in a worse situation if by some miracle McCain were to get elected because she would just be a heart beat away from the Presidency. This would create an even worse situation then having Bush running things.

    Dan Quayle repeated is a scary though indeed.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 22, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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