Politics on Point: The role of vice president.

As the 2016 Presidential election draws near, the two top candidates -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump -- met on the debate stage for the second 

time over the weekend. This debate was marked by ugly personal attacks, culminating in Trump suggesting his opponent should be placed in jail. 


But in this week’s Politics on Point, we’re going to focus on an earlier debate – featuring these two (PHOTO). They might not look nearly as familiar as Hillary or Donald, but, very soon, one of them will be “just a heartbeat away” from the presidency. Here to explain is Nick Castele. 

By now you might be used to seeing our top presidential candidates butting heads, but recently, we saw their second-in-commands duking it out on the debate stage. This is the first and only time the Vice Presidential candidates – Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence -- will debate in this election. And this debate was marked by a whole lot of frustrating cross-talk, which often prevented the audience from clearly hearing either candidate. 


They seemed to have a lot to say -- but, what exactly are they in the running for anyway? We all know the president is the Commander-in-Chief, but the Vice President’s job is a little less clear. 

During an election, the VP is the President’s right-hand-man, they make campaign stops and make media appearances on behalf of their running mate. Many candidates select their VP based on who they think can help them win – for example, Senator Tim Kaine calls the swing state of Virginia home. 

The only responsibilities the Constitution gives the VP is the job of presiding over the Senate. This means they can help lead the voting on legislation and if the senators ever get in a tie when they are voting for something, the Vice President gets to decide which side is correct. 

Most importantly the vice president is there to replace the president if they die or resign. Fourteen VPs have gone on to become president; five were elected president later on, while the other nine took over after the president died or resigned. The last Vice President to take over like this was Gerald Ford, who ascended to the presidency after President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. 

Some VPs play a more active role in governing depending on the responsibilities the president wants to give them – many times the vice president acts as the president’s advisor, and, in some cases, the VP can even be the president’s close confidant and friend like current Vice President and Obama BFF Joe Biden.

Instructional Links

Website Article: Whitehouse.gov, Vice President Joe Biden


Website Article: Scholastic, The President's and Vice President's Jobs


Website Article: Ducksters, United States Government Executive Branch - The President


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