One of the Vice President’s Key Jobs is to

One of the Vice President’s Key Jobs is to

Senator Walter Mondale, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, left, and Senator Robert Dole, the Republican vice presidential nominee, debate in October 1976. (© AP Images)

The role of the American vice president was the butt of jokes in earlier times, but the chore has evolved to bestow more power and carry more importance.

Nelson Rockefeller at first resisted being recruited for the position, maxim he was “just not congenital for standby equipment” before accepting the chore in the middle of the crisis precipitated past the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Some people might still say that the chore mostly amounts to attending funerals in place of the president, said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton, who studies vice presidential politics. Merely “times have inverse. Information technology is a really important position.”

Gerald Ford, who chose Rockefeller, illustrated just how important vice presidents can exist when he moved into the top job.

Nelson Rockefeller and Gerald Ford talking at desk (© AP Images)
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, left, and President Gerald Ford confer in the Oval Office in the White House in 1974. (© AP Images)

Constitutional underpinnings

The U.Southward. Constitution originally envisioned a very minor role for American vice presidents.

The Constitution gives the vice president the necktie-breaking ability in the U.S. Senate and a office equally the chief presiding officer there, and so the get-go American vice presidents spent virtually of their time there. “For most of the 19th century, the vice president was primarily a legislative position and presided over the Senate as a total-time occupant,” said Joel K. Goldstein, emeritus professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law and an expert on the vice presidency.

In earlier years, vice presidents were chosen to requite ideological or geographic balance to the presidential nominee’s campaign for election. Those are now much less of import considerations in picking a vice president, according to Devine. “Geography matters less and experience matters a lot more,” Devine said.

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Growing job duties

Over recent decades, presidents themselves have chosen to broaden the chore, starting with Jimmy Carter, who was elected president in 1976 as a Washington outsider. As a businessman, Carter felt the land should benefit from the person occupying the position of vice-president. He used Walter Mondale as a true partner and adviser, according to Goldstein.

Mondale, not relegated to the Senate, got his pick of prime role space in the White House’due south West Wing. He could pop into the Oval Office any time he wanted to see Carter and was included in meetings and decisions. It was a radical upgrade for the office that has been continued past subsequent presidents, Goldstein said.

(Country Dept./Buck Insley)

Carter was partly motivated by hearing about what happened when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in 1945. His vice president, Harry Truman, had to exist pulled aside and told of the state’southward secret plan to build an atomic bomb.

“Carter thought it was simply appalling to have the person (who was) a heartbeat abroad not be up to speed,” Goldstein said.

The American vice president in recent administrations could be called a major understudy for the president.

The expanded role of the federal government makes having a capable successor more important than it was at the country’s dawn, Goldstein said. And modernistic threats mean information technology’south crucial to always have someone ready to step in during a crisis, he said.

Aside from breaking tie votes in the Senate and stepping in when the president tin can’t fulfill his responsibilities, vice presidents have developed these new responsibilities:

  • They lead commissions and other efforts on particular topics every bit a mode for the president to evidence focus on that area. Al Gore, for instance, led a “reinventing government” try for President Bill Clinton.
  • They travel abroad, especially when the president isn’t ready to commit to some sort of deal with another country just wants to send a loftier-level emissary.
  • They serve as directorate whose loyalties are clearly to the president and non other groups.
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“If used properly they tin can be a strong marry — someone who doesn’t take a slice of bureaucratic turf to defend,” Devine said.

One of the Vice President’s Key Jobs is to