Just before this week's Republican National Convention, Indiana governor Mike Pence officially became the vice presidential nominee on the 2016 GOP ticket. In the run-up to an election, the VP pick can make or break a campaign. But what do vice presidents actually do once they're in office?
Reporting from the RNC in Cleveland, Ohio, Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today's Seeker Daily report.
The primary function of the vice president, of course, is to take the reins should the president die, resign or be removed from office. This has occurred nine times in the history of the United States -- four presidents have been assassinated, four have died of natural causes and one rather infamously resigned.
The vice president also presides over the Senate and casts any tie-breaker votes required by that august body. Such votes are rare, however. Current vice president Joe Biden is one of 12 VPs who have never cast such a vote at all. If you're keeping score at home, America's first VP, John Adams, still holds the record with 29 tie-breaking votes cast while in office.
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The vice president has several unofficial duties, however. For instance, the VP is expected to organize the annual executive branch wiffle ball game on the South Lawn and mix drinks for the press corps during -- oops, wait a second. Wrong notes. Aha, here we go....
Basically, the VP acts as a kind of unofficial spokesperson for the administration, explaining policy positions, dealing with the press, or serving as an A-list diplomat for important international visits. VPs typically keep a relatively low profile overall, though, so as not to divert focus from the president.
But sometimes the VP and president have a closer relationship. Walter Mondale was known to be an intimate confidant to president Jimmy Carter and an active participant in day-to-day affairs. Al Gore and Bill Clinton worked together closely on matters of foreign policy and the environment.
But before any of that can happen, the VP has to help the president win the election. To that end, presidential candidates look for a running mate who can help balance the ticket and appeal to a wide range of voters. That's Pence's job in the coming months, and he's sure to be a highly visible presence at this year's convention.
-- Glenn McDonald
NPR: The Evolving Role Of The Vice President
Smithsonian Magazine: How the Office of the Vice Presidency Evolved from Nothing to Something
The Progressive Professor: Presidential-Vice Presidential Relationships Rarely Warm
ABC: Mike Pence: Everything You Need to Know