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Vice President - the person who takes over the Presidency in case of illness or death of the President. The Vice President also acts as president of the Senate, over which he presides. He or she may not vote in the Senate, except to break a tie. Presidential candidates often choose running mates to attract support from voters otherwise disinclined to vote for them. For most of American history, the role of the Vice President was very limited. Under the presidencies of Carter, Reagan and Clifton, however, the Vice President has been given more responsibilities.
The Worst Vice Presidents In American History
As listed by Britannica, out of the 48 vice presidents throughout U.S. history, 14 eventually become the president, though, as of this writing, the number could increase to 15 with a Joe Biden election victory. The vice president of the United States of America is one of the most powerful individuals in the world. At the same time, it is a position that's usually only in the public eye when a presidential candidate is selecting someone to hold the position when they run for office. On the rare occasions when a president can no longer continue their term, or when the Senate needs a tie-breaking vote, the name of the vice president takes center stage once again. Aside from that, the vice president has been a traditionally quiet position, with a few exceptions.
Sometimes, being quiet is good. Just like how not every president in the nation's history had productive administrations, the same goes for their vice presidents. Either from incompetence, corruption, not committing the time and effort required for the position, or a combination of the three plus more troubling qualities, certain vice presidents would have done better staying away from Pennsylvania Avenue. And, of course, some of these veeps found themselves promoted to the highest office in the world and failing just as much as they did as vice presidents. These are the worst vice presidents in the history of the United States.
American presidents are limited to two, four-year terms in office (or a maximum of 10 years in a case of a president who ascended to the position as vice president), thanks to the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1951. However, vice presidents, like members of the U.S. . read more
America’s 30th vice president has the distinction of being the only man who was both a heartbeat away from the presidency and the composer of a song that hit the top of the pop music charts. Charles Dawes, a descendant of Revolutionary War figure William Dawes (who, along with . read more
Kamala Harris Becomes First Sitting Vice President to March in a Pride Event
Vice President Kamala Harris has made history once again, becoming the first sitting Vice President to march in a Pride event.
Harris participated in a march with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on Saturday during Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. She wore a "love is love" t-shirt as she walked with other Pride-goers to a rally at Freedom Plaza, telling them, "Happy Pride!"
She spoke briefly at the event, advocating for the passage of the Equality Act while expressing her and President Joe Biden&aposs commitment to advancing LGBTQ rights. "We need to make sure that our transgender community and our youth are all protected. We need, still, protections around employment and housing," Harris said, according to NBC Washington. "There is so much more work to do, and I know we are committed."
The Vice President also observed the fifth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting on Twitter, paying tribute to the 49 people who were killed at the Orlando gay club on June 12, 2016.
"Five years ago, 49 LGBTQ+ people and allies were enjoying an evening out at Pulse Nightclub," she wrote. "And then, in an instant, they were gone. Today, we remember those who died and their loved ones-and we recommit to building a world free from gun violence."
Harris&apos post came as President Biden issued his own statement announcing that he&aposll sign a piece of legislation to name the nightclub a national memorial, which recently passed the House and Senate. He also advocated for stricter gun control and the passage of the Equality Act, acknowledging that the LGBTQ community is disproportionately impacted by gun violence, particularly transgender women of color.
"In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago, let us continue the work to be a nation at our best-one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American," Biden said in his statement.
The Biden/Harris administration has made LGBTQ issues one of their priorities, restoring transgender healthcare protections and removing Donald Trump&aposs ban on transgender military members. One of Biden&aposs first executive orders was calling for an end to discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
RELATED VIDEO: &aposThe Same Deal That Barack and I Made&apos: How Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Are Working Together
"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," the order read. "Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination."
This year&aposs Pride Month comes during an uncertain time for the LGBTQ community. As of March, there were 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, according to HRC. Of those, a record 93 directly target transgender people.
2. The framers of the Constitution didn’t give VPs much to do.
In addition to assuming the presidency if the office becomes vacant, the Constitution gives the vice president two main responsibilities, one of which is to serve as president of the Senate and break tie votes. John Adams cast the highest number of tie-breaking votes, 29. By comparison, Joe Biden cast zero tie-breaking votes during his eight years in office, while Mike Pence so far has broken 13 tie votes. To date, vice presidents have cast more than 250 tie-breaking votes, according to the Senate Historical Office. Following a presidential election, the veep’s other constitutional duty is to oversee the formal counting of Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress.
The Vice Presidents That History Forgot
In 1966, I stood outside my elementary school in Maryland, waving a sign for Spiro Agnew. He was running for governor against a segregationist who campaigned on the slogan, “Your Home Is Your Castle—Protect It.” My parents, like many Democrats, crossed party lines that year to help elect Agnew. Two years later, he became Richard Nixon’s surprise choice as running mate, prompting pundits to wonder, “Spiro who?” At 10, I was proud to know the answer.
From This Story
Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, who refused to claim the top job after Wilson’s stroke. (Jason Boyle) The vice-presidential learning center features a sweatshirt worn by the young Dan Quayle. (Jason Boyle)
Agnew isn’t otherwise a source of much pride. He became “Nixon’s Nixon,” an acid-tongued hatchet man who resigned a year before his boss, for taking bribes. But “Spiro who?” turned me into an early and enduring student of vice-presidential trivia. Which led me, a few months ago, to Huntington, Indiana, an industrial town that was never much and is even less today. It’s also the boyhood home of our 44th vice president.
His elementary school is unmarked, a plain brick building that’s now a senior citizens center. But across the street stands an imposing church that has been rechristened the “Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center.” Inside the former chapel, you can see “Danny” Quayle’s report card (A’s and B’s), his toy truck and exhibits on his checkered tenure as vice president. He “accomplished more than most realize,” a caption states, noting Quayle’s visits to 47 countries and his chairmanship of the Council on Competitiveness.
But the learning center isn’t a shrine to Quayle—or a joke on its namesake, who famously misspelled “potato.” It is, instead, a nonpartisan collection of stories and artifacts relating to all 47 vice presidents: the only museum in the land devoted to the nation’s second-highest office. This neglect might seem surprising, until you tour the museum and learn just how ignored and reviled the vice presidency has been for most of its history. John Nance Garner, for one, said the job wasn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.
“Actually, Garner said ‘piss,’ not spit, but the press substituted another warm bodily fluid,” notes Daniel Johns, the museum director. This polishing of Garner’s words marked a rare instance of varnish being applied to the office. While Americans sanctify the presidency and swathe it in myth, the same has rarely applied to the president’s “spare tire,” as Garner also called himself.
“Ridicule is an occupational hazard of the job,” Johns observes, leading me past political cartoons, newspaper invective and portraits of whiskered figures so forgotten that the museum has struggled to find anything to say or display about them. He pauses before a group portrait of Indiana’s five VPs, a number that stirs Hoosier pride—except that the first, Schuyler Colfax, took bribes in a railroad scandal and died unrecognized on a railroad platform.
“His picture should be hung a little more crooked,” Johns quips. He moves on to Colfax’s successor, Henry Wilson, who died in office after soaking in a tub. Then comes William Wheeler, unknown even to the man at the top of the ticket in 1876. “Who is Wheeler?” Rutherford B. Hayes wrote upon hearing the quiet congressman suggested as his running mate.
The VP museum, which once used the advertising motto “Second to One,” isn’t kind to the nation’s founders, either. It was they who are largely to blame for the rogues, also-rans and even corpses who have often filled the office. The Constitution gave almost no role to the vice president, apart from casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate. John Adams, the first to hold the job, called it “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived.”
The Constitution also failed to specify the powers and status of vice presidents who assumed the top office. In fact, the second job was such an afterthought that no provision was made for replacing VPs who died or departed before finishing their terms. As a result, the office has been vacant for almost 38 years in the nation’s history.
Until recently, no one much cared. When William R.D. King died in 1853, just 25 days after his swearing-in (last words: “Take the pillow from under my head”), President Pierce gave a speech addressing other matters before concluding “with a brief allusion” to the vice president’s death. Other number-twos were alive but absentee, preferring their own homes or pursuits to an inconsequential role in Washington, where most VPs lived in boardinghouses (they had no official residence until the 1970s). Thomas Jefferson regarded his vice presidency as a “tranquil and unoffending station,” and spent much of it at Monticello. George Dallas (who called his wife “Mrs. Vice”) maintained a lucrative law practice, writing of his official post: “Where is he to go? What has he to do?—no where, nothing.” Daniel Tompkins, a drunken embezzler described as a “degraded sot,” paid so little heed to his duties that Congress docked his salary.
Even more eccentric was Richard Johnson, a Kentucky legislator who once petitioned Congress to send an expedition to drill “the Polar regions,” to determine if the earth was hollow and habitable. He also boasted of being “born in a cane brake and cradled in a sap trough,” and took credit for slaying the Indian chief Tecumseh. This spawned the campaign slogan “Rumpsey Dumpsey, Col. Johnson killed Tecumsey!” It also made the frontier war-hero a ticket-balancing running mate to Martin Van Buren, a dandyish New Yorker accused of wearing corsets.
But Johnson had his own baggage. He took a slave as his common-law wife and escorted his two mulatto daughters to public functions. This enraged Southern congressmen, who almost denied him the vice presidency. Once in office, Johnson succumbed to chronic debts and decamped for Kentucky, where he ran a hotel and tavern and grew so disheveled that an English visitor wrote, “If he should become President, he will be as strange-looking a potentate as ever ruled.”
Johnson never made it, but his successor did. Upon President Harrison’s death in 1841, John Tyler became the first VP to step into the executive breach. Dubbed “His Accidency,” Tyler lived up to his mediocre reputation and became the first president not to run for a second term (no party would have him). The next three VPs to replace dead presidents also failed to win re-election. Millard Fillmore became arguably our most obscure president Andrew Johnson, “shamefully drunk” at his vice-presidential inauguration, was impeached and the corpulent Chester Arthur, who served 14-course meals at the White House, was dumped by his own party.
Sitting vice presidents proved disposable, too. During one 62-year stretch, none were nominated for a second chance at the second job. James Sherman broke this streak in 1912, only to die shortly before the election. President Taft didn’t replace him and ran with a dead man on the ticket. The vice presidency, Theodore Roosevelt observed, was “not a steppingstone to anything except oblivion.”
One reason so few VPs distinguished themselves was the mediocrity (or worse) of second-stringers chosen in smoke-filled rooms to pay off party bosses or secure key states like Indiana (only New York has provided more VPs). Another impediment was the office itself, which seemed to diminish even its eminent occupants. Charles Dawes won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping reconstruct Europe after World War I—only to wither as VP to do-nothing Calvin Coolidge. Dawes’ successor, Charles Curtis, was part Kaw Indian and made a remarkable rise from reservation boyhood to Senate majority leader. Then, as Herbert Hoover’s VP, Curtis became a laughingstock, lampooned in a Gershwin musical, feeding peanuts to pigeons and squirrels.
Many presidents made matters worse by ignoring or belittling their understudies. Hoover didn’t mention Curtis in his inaugural address. Adlai Stevenson (the forgotten grandfather of the 1950s liberal of the same name) was once asked if President Cleveland had consulted him about anything of even minor consequence. “Not yet,” he said. “But there are still a few weeks of my term remaining.”
The energetic Teddy Roosevelt feared as VP that he “could not do anything,” and wrote an article urging that the role be expanded. But when he became president upon McKinley’s assassination, and then won re-election with Senator Charles Fairbanks, T.R. did nothing to break the pattern. The fiery Roosevelt disliked Fairbanks, a dour conservative known as “the Indiana Icicle,” and not only scorned the VP but undercut his White House ambitions. Four years after T.R. left office, Fairbanks was again offered a place on the Republican ticket. “My name must not be considered for Vice President,” he replied. “Please withdraw it.”
It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that vice presidents began to emerge as more than a “contingent somebody,” or “nullity” in Washington (the words of Lincoln’s first VP, Hannibal Hamlin, a cardplayer who said the announcement of his candidacy ruined a good hand). As government rapidly expanded during the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt used “Cactus Jack” Garner, a veteran legislator, as his arm-twister in Congress. During World War II, Roosevelt made his second VP, Henry Wallace, a globe-trotting ambassador and head of wartime procurement.
Harry Truman, by contrast, served FDR for only 82 days and wasn’t consulted or prepared for the top job, a deficit he set out to correct as president. His VP, Alben Barkley, joined the National Security Council and cabinet meetings. Truman raised the salary of the office and gave it a seal and flag. Barkley’s tenure also bestowed an enduring nickname on the job. A folksy Kentuckian who disliked the formal “Mr. Vice President,” Barkley took his grandson’s suggestion and added two e’s between the title’s initials. Hence “Veep.”
The status and duties of vice presidents have risen ever since, along with their political fortunes. Four of the past 12 VPs became president two others, Hubert Humphrey and Al Gore, just missed. In 1988, George H.W. Bush became the first sitting vice president to win election to the top job since Van Buren in 1836. The perks of office have also improved. A century ago, VPs still paid for their own lodging, car repairs and official entertaining. Today, they inhabit a Washington mansion and West Wing office, have large salaries and staffs, and merit their own anthem, “Hail Columbia.”
This road to vice-presidential respectability has, of course, hit bumps. Lyndon Johnson feuded with the Kennedys and their aides, who called him “Uncle Cornpone.” Agnew took kickbacks in his White House office. Nelson Rockefeller, given little but ceremonial duties by President Ford, said of his job: “I go to funerals. I go to earthquakes.” Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face.
Veeps have also struggled to shed their image as lightweights, bench warmers and easy targets of derision. Dan Quayle’s frequent gaffes gave endless fodder to late-night TV hosts, and one of his malapropisms entered Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations: “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful.” Quayle’s troubles even feature at the learning center named for him in Indiana. The director, Johns, says the museum began as a small “hometown rah-rah exhibit” at a local library. But with Quayle’s encouragement, it grew into a two-story collection focused on the office rather than Huntington’s favorite son. Though Quayle occupies more space than any other VP, the exhibits on him refer to the “potatoe” incident and include a political cartoon of a reporter with a bat, enjoying “Quayle season.”
Johns takes the long view of Quayle’s drubbing by the press, and believes it’s instructive for students who visit his museum. “Quayle took a lot of flak, and that’s pretty much the history of the vice presidency, going back two centuries,” he says. Johns also suggests, half-seriously, that potential VPs be vetted for qualities other than their experience and integrity. Humility and a sense of humor may be equally important prerequisites for the job.
No one grasped this better than Quayle’s fellow Hoosier, Thomas Marshall, whose home lies 20 miles north of Huntington on the “Highway of Vice Presidents,” so-called because three of Indiana’s lived along it. Marshall was a small-town lawyer for most of his career, and his modest clapboard home now houses a museum of county history, with a brick outhouse in the yard. Inside, the exhibits include Marshall’s shaving cup, a “pig stein” given to him by a German diplomat and pictures of him feeding a squirrel at the Capitol. Only one or two people visit each week to see the Marshall items.
“The epitome of the vice president as nonentity,” reads Marshall’s entry in an authoritative Senate history of the office. President Woodrow Wilson was a haughty Princetonian who considered Marshall a “small-caliber man.” Wilson also wrote that a VP’s only significance “consists in the fact that he may cease to be Vice President.”
In Marshall’s case this almost happened, when Wilson suffered a paralytic stroke. But the VP was so out of the loop that he didn’t know the severity of Wilson’s condition until told by a reporter that the president might die. “I never have wanted his shoes,” wrote Marshall, who continued to do little more than entertain foreign dignitaries and throw out the first pitch on opening day.
He did, however, gain a reputation for wit. While listening to a long Senate speech about the nation’s needs, Marshall quipped: “What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” He also told a joke about two brothers. “One ran away to sea, the other was elected vice president, and nothing was ever heard of either of them again.”
This proved true of Marshall, who quietly returned to Indiana and wrote a self-deprecating memoir. He didn’t want to work anymore, he said, wryly adding: “I wouldn’t mind being Vice President again.”
About Tony Horwitz
Tony Horwitz was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and wrote for the New Yorker. He is the author of Baghdad without a Map, Midnight Rising and the digital best seller BOOM. His most recent work, Spying on the South, was released in May 2019. Tony Horwitz died in May 2019 at the age of 60.
A key focus of Bush’s presidency was foreign policy. He began his time in the White House as Germany was in the process of reunifying, the Soviet Union was collapsing and the Cold War was ending. Bush would be credited with helping to improve U.S.-Soviet relations. He met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and in July 1991, the two men signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Bush also authorized military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf. In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama and overthrew the nation’s corrupt dictator, Manuel Noriega, who was threatening the security of Americans who lived there and trafficking drugs to the United States.
Kamala Harris becomes 1st sitting vice president to march in Pride parade
Vice President Kamala Harris walked in the Capital Pride Walk and Rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, making history as the first sitting vice president to march in a Pride event.
Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff walked and waved, wearing graphic T-shirts that read “Love is love” and “Love first.” Harris greeted those around her with declarations of “Happy Pride!”
The @SecondGentleman and I stopped by Capital Pride today! pic.twitter.com/vjx1k9DD5z
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 12, 2021
During the march, Harris delivered brief remarks to the crowd, advocating for the Senate to pass the Equality Act. The bill, passed by the House of Representatives in February, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We celebrate all of the accomplishments, but we need to pass the Equality Act,” Harris said. “We need to make sure that our transgender community and our youth are all protected. We need, still, protections around employment and housing. There is so much more work to do, and I know we are committed.”
The Biden-Harris administration has brought LGBTQ issues to the forefront of its agenda. One of the president’s first executive orders called for an end to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Biden also reversed his predecessor’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and restored transgender health protections. Earlier this month he issued a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, vowing to fight for equality for the LGBTQ community.
Harris’s emphasis on the work that needs to be done reflects the reality that LGBTQ rights are still uncertain in many states. This year has seen a historic number of state legislative attempts to push back on LGBTQ protections, including those covering transgender people. So far, more than 250 such bills have been introduced in state legislatures, and 17 have been enacted into law.
A day after the march, Harris released a video on Instagram emphasizing her dedication to fighting for the LGBTQ community. “LGBTQ Americans, I want you to know: We see you. We hear you,” she wrote in the caption. “President Joe Biden and I will not rest until everyone has equal protection under the law. Happy #Pride.”
History-maker Kamala Harris will wield real power as vice-president
W hen Kamala Harris raises her right hand and takes the oath of office on Wednesday she will realize a multitude of historic firsts – becoming America’s first female, first Black and first south Asian American vice-president.
Exactly two weeks after a deadly attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, and a week after the president’s second impeachment, it will be a barrier-breaking moment for millions of women across the US and the world that it is hoped will signal a distinct shift away from the chaos and racist rhetoric of the previous administration.
But for Harris, it will also be deeply personal. The California senator has said she will be thinking of her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an activist and breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the US from India in 1958, and children who were told by their parents: “You can do anything.”
“I feel a very big sense of responsibility … I will be the first, but I will not be the last,” she told ABC, echoing her mother’s words and those of her powerful victory speech.
Bakari Sellers, a friend and supporter, said it will be an “amazing moment” for Harris and her sister Maya, with whom she is very close and was the chairwoman of her presidential campaign, and that their mother “is going to be looking down on them both”.
“Personally it’s going to be an awesome feeling, and then she’ll have a sense of history because from a historical perspective there’s so many women who chipped away at that glass ceiling and now she has broken it. And I think that she will feel the weight of that history on her shoulders,” added Sellers, an attorney, commentator and author of My Vanishing Country.
But with the coronavirus pandemic still raging across the US, and amid heightened security fears following the attack on 6 January and the threat of unrest from far-right extremist groups, the inaugurationwill look very different from previous years.
There will be minimal in-person spectators at the inauguration, themed “America United”, and a virtual parade. Guests will include Vice-President Mike Pence (but not the president, who has said he won’t attend) and former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and George W and Laura Bush.
Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, take a selfie with the owners of Floriana restaurant as they pick up a carry-out order in Washington DC. Photograph: KBD/UPI/REX/Shutterstock
Harris, 56, is expected to be sworn in just before Biden, 78, at around midday in a televised ceremony in front of the US Capitol that will include performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.
Together with her husband Doug Emhoff, who will become America’s first “second gentleman”, she will then take part in a pass in review, a tradition with members of the military, and attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington national cemetery with the new president and first lady, Dr Jill Biden.
She will also feature in an evening prime-time television special called Celebrating America.
Manisha Sinha, history professor at the University of Connecticut and author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, said Harris’s vice-presidency has galvanised huge enthusiasm among Black women and the Indian American and Asian American communities and signifies “a new direction in American democracy”.
She added: “It’s also a symbol to the rest of the world that has been watching the United States in horror, just to have her and Biden take over is really important. It signals to the world that we are an interracial democracy and that certainly her election is a rejection of the kind of white supremacist politics that Trump brought back into vogue.”
But, she warned, the whole country is not behind America’s increasingly diverse political landscape, demonstrated by a “tremendous racist backlash”.
“There is a strong unregenerate minority in this country that is willing to overthrow democracy in the United States rather than accept the election of people like Barack Obama and Kamala Harris to the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States.”
Harris’s role will be far more than symbolic. Unusually for a vice-president whose official role is largely ceremonial, she will wield considerable power.
Biden has vowed that Harris will be the “last person in the room” making important decisions, modelled on his relationship as vice-president with Obama, and has asked the vice-president-elect to bring her “lived experience” to every issue. Harris has said she wants to be a “full partner”.
But in addition to her White House duties, following the Democrats’ two recent Senate victories in Georgia, Harris will also play a high-profile role in passing legislation on Capitol Hill.
Kamala Harris heads into the Senate chamber for a procedural vote in December. The Senate may continue to occupy her time as vice-president. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP
Despite their constitutional duty as president of the Senate, vice-presidents are only allowed to vote to break a tie. But with the balance of power evenly split 50-50 with Republicans, it is likely that Harris will be required to spend more time than perhaps she imagined with her former Senate colleagues.
The last two times that the Senate had a 50-50 split was for six months in 2001, under the vice-presidency of Dick Cheney, and in 1954. Harris is likely to be in this position for at least two years.
Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, said Harris’s pivotal role in the Senate will mean she “is going to be cast in a very different light than previous vice-presidents” and will make her crucial in terms of putting forward a legislative agenda.
“Now that doesn’t mean that she’s not going to weigh in on important policy decisions or try to be a broad adviser to Joe Biden, [but] at least for that first 100 days, she’s pivotal to ensuring that any piece of tied legislation gets passed because that’s how Joe Biden’s going to build a legislative record.”
She added: “I can’t remember another time, and in contemporary history there isn’t one, where the vice-president is basically the person determining whether legislation gets to the president’s desk.”
The extent to which her Senate responsibilities will shape her vice-presidency will depend on what happens in the 2022 midterms, said Lawless. But she believes it could constrain her ability to work across party lines as well as other responsibilities and potential to travel.
“In a lot of ways, she’s basically just taking on an additional job – she’s going to be a senator plus vice-president … that’s sort of poetic in that women have been doing three times as much work as men forever,” said Lawless.
Harris allies insist nothing has changed in her approach to the vice-presidency in which she will be a “governing partner” to Biden.
A source familiar with the situation said: “If she needs to be there [the Senate] for anything, she will, but the president-elect won because people want the gridlock in Washington to end. Our goal is to work across the aisle to get things done.”
Joe Biden has said he plans to model his relationship with his vice-president on his with Barack Obama. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Despite an impeachment trial, expected to take place in the Senate in the early days of the new administration, Harris has said they will be “hitting the ground running” on their first day of office, starting with a $1.9tn rescue package to address the pandemic and the economic crisis. Their other top priorities, the source said, will be racial justice and climate change. “She is approaching this as a partner to him and they have to address those together.”
The pair are said to have a “wonderful dynamic” and are in constant contact. Their spouses are also said to have a good relationship and are well acquainted after travelling extensively together on the campaign trail.
Dan Morain, a California-based journalist and author of biography Kamala’s Way: An American Life, said she is an “incredibly talented politician”.
“She’s thoughtful, she is deliberate, she is strategic, she thinks more than one step ahead, she thinks many steps ahead.”
In California, where Harris was district attorney and attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016, Morain said she was known for being “tough and demanding” but also “incredibly charming and charismatic”. He believes there is little doubt that Harris, who ran against Biden in the 2020 presidential election, will run again for president in the future.
Lateefah Simon, a civil rights activist who worked for Harris in San Francisco and considers her a mentor, cannot wait to see the vice-president-elect – who she refers to as the MVP (Madam Vice-President) – in the White House.
“Kamala shifts that conversation, not only for little Black girls, but for all women who believe that they have to wait their turn,” she said. “Kamala showed us that there’s no turns – if you’re right for the job, you work hard, and you take it.”
The Five Worst Vice Presidential Picks
As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton choose their VP candidates, some cautionary tales of just what could go wrong.
Picking a vice president is a little like choosing a spouse. For better or for worse, the couple are tied together. Some pairings are happy others less so. Some lead to mutual gain others to mutual destruction. For presidential hopefuls, it is arguably the most vital decision of their campaign.
As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton mull over their VP picks, here are five cautionary tales of just what could go wrong.
Tom Eagleton, VP Candidate for George McGovern (1972)
Senator Tom Eagleton was not George McGovern’s first pick for vice president. After the party all-stars turned him down, McGovern turned to the B-team candidates – and they turned him down too. In fact, by the time of the Democratic Convention, a total of nine candidates had turned McGovern down. Time was running out for the spurned presidential hopeful. After a two-minute phone call with Tom Eagleton, McGovern was sold.
Reports soon leaked that Eagleton suffered from clinical depression and had even received electroshock therapy. McGovern initially promised that he would back Eagleton ‘1,000 percent’, but a fter meeting with Eagleton’s psychiatrist, decided that his running mate should not be a heartbeat away from the nuclear codes, and asked for Eagleton's resignation.
Eagleton served as McGovern’s VP candidate for just 18 days. While McGovern was probably doomed from the start against a surging Richard Nixon, McGovern’s failure to vet his VP nominee deflated his already struggling campaign.
Dan Quayle, VP for George H.W. Bush (1988-92)
Dan Quayle served as vice president of the United States for four years. While Quayle didn’t singlehandedly sink Bush’s re-election campaign in 1992, he certainly didn’t help the effort. The ‘Quaylisms’ below speak for themselves.
On voters: ‘A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.’
On his decision-making skills: ‘I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.’
On his qualifications: ‘I was known as the chief grave robber of my state.’
On success : ‘If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.’
On the Holocaust: ‘The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.’
Sarah Palin, VP Candidate for John McCain (2008)
On paper, John McCain had a great chance in the 2008 election. He was a war hero revered for a lifetime of public service. His competitor was a 44-year old with two years of experience in the Senate. With the economy in freefall, McCain could highlight his steady, experienced hand while hammering away at Obama’s inexperience.
And then McCain chose Sarah Palin.
He thought she was the total package: a female candidate who could revitalise the ticket with youth, energy and small-town charm. But then the public learned more about Sarah Palin. She was well read – in fact, she read all the newspapers! She had deep insight on foreign policy – she could even see Russia from her home state of Alaska!
The media pounced, and Palin withered on the national stage. The 72-year old McCain had chosen a candidate who shared Obama’s inexperience but lacked his intellectual credentials. In the same way that Eagleton undermined faith in McGovern’s decision-making, many questioned McCain’s leadership as he made a mistake on the most important choice of his candidacy. McCain’s staff blamed Palin for their loss to Obama – and they may be right.
Spiro Agnew, Vice President for Richard Nixon (1969-73)
When asked why he would keep Spiro Agnew on the ticket for his 1972 re-election campaign, Nixon quipped: ‘Because no assassin in their right mind would kill me.’ By this time, Nixon had removed Agnew from his inner circle and even tried to lure his vice president into resigning by offering him a job as the head of a TV network. Fearing an electoral backlash from Agnew’s conservative supporters, however, Nixon kept him on the ticket.
Soon after the election, Agnew was accused of bribery, tax evasion and extortion, among other charges. A few days after declaring ‘I will not resign if indicted’ he resigned in disgrace.
Agnew briefly re-entered public life a few years later by criticising Gerald Ford's policy on Israel – and was rebuked by the president for his ‘unsavory remarks about Jews.’ In later years, he would go on to write a novel about a vice president who was ‘destroyed by his own ambition’.
John C. Calhoun, VP for John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson (1824-32)
John Calhoun first served as vice president for John Quincy Adams. Halfway through his term, he switched sides to Adams’ rival, Andrew Jackson, and in 1828 ran against Adams as Jackson’s VP.
But betraying one president wasn’t enough for Calhoun. As Andrew Jackson struggled to enforce the ‘Tariff of Abominations’ in South Carolina, his vice president publicly argued that South Carolina should nullify the tariff. At stake was the viability of the federal government – and Calhoun was determined to beat Jackson.
In a famous episode at a state dinner, Jackson directed a toast to his VP turned rival: ‘Our Union: It must be preserved.’ Calhoun responded with a toast of his own: ‘The Union. Next to our liberty, the most dear.’ Shortly after, Calhoun made his way to South Carolina to help push his home state towards nullification. An angry Jackson told a South Carolina congressman to ‘give my compliments to my friends in your State, and say to them, that if a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hand on engaged in such treasonable conduct’. It was a direct threat to Calhoun, who got the message.
Relations between the two men soured further. Calhoun’s wife Floride marshalled the spouses of Jackson’s cabinet to shun Peggy Eaton, the wife of John Eaton, Secretary of War and a favourite of Jackson’s. Floride’s machinations escalated into the Petticoat affair, and the resultant collapse of Jackson's cabinet.
But Calhoun still wasn’t done. Calhoun resigned the vice-presidency more than two months before his term was up so he could fight Jackson's federal program in the Senate.
While the other contenders were well-meaning failures, John Calhoun actively tried to undermine both of the presidents he served. For this reason, John Calhoun can be regarded as the worst vice president in American history.
Michael McQueeney is an undergraduate student at Cornell University pursuing a major in Industrial and Labor Relations. His website is The Past Parallel.