The vice presidency is a strange office, a hybrid of both the executive branch and the legislative branch. The occupant breaks ties on Senate votes and can preside over the counting of their own electoral votes in a joint session of Congress. So Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris carried with it more significance as we brace for a possibly disputed election, a Supreme Court nomination fight and, oh yeah, health and age questions surrounding the men at the top of their tickets.
Former Vice President John “Cactus Jack” Garner described the vice presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” A lot has changed since Garner was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first veep, and judging from the ferocious competition to be politics’ most famous No. 2, it is probably worth a bit more these days.
Which brings us to the current Republican vice president, Pence, and the Democrat who wants to replace him, California’s junior senator, Harris.
With President Donald Trump knocked off the trail by his COVID-19 diagnosis, Pence has become the campaign’s most prominent surrogate. And Harris is about to assume a prominent role as she leaves the trail to take part in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where she will likely use her time to call attention to issues she feels will be to the advantage of the Biden-Harris ticket.
With us on this edition of Political Theater to break down the debate, the significance of the vice presidency and how a veep candidate can affect not just the presidential race but Senate and House campaigns up and down the line are CQ Roll Call chief correspondent Niels Lesniewski and elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales.
- Pence, Harris have civil debate, but do not answer questions on COVID and other topics
- Fact-checking the debate: Pence, Harris crossed the line on coronavirus
- Supreme Court confirmation hearing starts under 2020 cloud
- McConnell keeps distance from White House, citing doubts about COVID-19 protocols
- With or without a debate: Five defense questions the candidates should answer
- In year of surprises, a win by Joe Biden should not be one
- Four weeks to go: Lindsey Graham joins 10 most vulnerable senators list
- 10 most vulnerable House members: GOP in suburbs, ‘blue wave’ Democrats
- Ye Olde Political Theater Podcast Archive