Note—We pick up the story
of the American Vice Presidency today with a non-entity that surprised himself
by discovering never suspected integrity and run through more than a 150 head
spinning years of our national second bananas.
With Reconstruction in
force across the South, the Republicans were now in power and
essentially unbeatable for the foreseeable future when Ulysses S. Grant was elected in
1868. While personally honest,
his administration was marked by corruption
and repeated scandals. He was followed by a parade of bearded former generals, most of them
men of modest talents. The possible
exception was Ohioan James Garfield,
an outspoken reformer, advocate for continued Federal protection for Blacks in the South, and friend of labor in a party increasingly dominated by and beholden to Robber Barons. But Garfield was gunned down by a disappointed
office seeker who shouted “I am
the Stalwart of Stalwarts! Now Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur, a card carrying political hack and toady to New
York State boss Roscoe Conklin, came to office after James Garfield died
of his wounds from an assassin's bullet and surprised everyone
including himself by standing up to Conklin and pursuing Garfield's
civil service reform agenda.
That would be Chester
Allan Arthur, the former Collector
of the Port of New York, a patronage
rich plum. He had been forced on
Garfield at the Republican convention by Arthur’s political sponsor and benefactor,
New York Senator Roscoe Conklin, leader
of the Stalwart faction which stood by the patronage
spoils system and adamantly opposed civil
Once in office, however, Arthur seemed to have a conversion experience. He curtly refused to honor Conklin’s list of proposed appointments
to Cabinet posts, lucrative collectorships, judgeships, postmasters,
and diplomatic posts. He also began the work toward Civil Service
Reform that would be completed by
his successors. Not surprisingly, Arthur
was not nominated by his party for a full term.
He was replaced by former Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine.
The Plumed Knight, however, promptly lost to conservative Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York.
Cleveland was out four years later replaced by Benjamin Harrison, grandson of
the first President to die in office but returned in 1892 with Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, founder of a multi generation political dynasty, as his Vice President.
By 1896 the Republicans had run out of Civil War Generals
and were down to a lowly Major, William McKinley of Ohio, the political creation of Senator Marc Hanna’s
national political machine and the architect of enshrining big
business as the principal pillar of
the GOP. After McKinley’s first Vice
President Garret Hobart of New Jersey died in office during his
first term, Hanna and other party bosses tapped
the reform governor of New York and popular Spanish American War hero Theodore
Roosevelt to run in 1900. They hoped
that they could safely isolate the hyperactive do-gooder in the dead end backwater of the Vice Presidency where many a political
career had gone to die.The ticket of William McKinnley and Theodore Roosevelt got the cigar box label salute.
Unfortunately for them, another assassin’s bullet elevated
“that damned cowboy” to the White House, which he hit like a whirlwind.
The advocate for the strenuous life transformed the modern presidency from rather passive administration to an activist shaper of national goals and policies.
He busted trusts, created
National Parks and Monuments among other conservation achievements,
modernized and rebuilt the Navy, settled a war between Russia and Japan, and started a revolution so he could build the Panama Canal.
With the experience of Arthur and Roosevelt in mind, party
bosses started vetting Vice
Presidential candidates more carefully to prevent any more run away trains. Candidates
tended to mainstream and safe and chosen among pools of like
prospects based on their capacity to boost the ticket by geographic balance or special
appeal to a swing constituency.
The next test of the Vice Presidency came under Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who picked folksy progressive Indiana Governor Thomas
R. Marshall as his running mate. But
the staid and reserved Wilson found Marshall’s humor and storytelling
so irksome that he moved the Vice President’s office out of the White
House. By the way, it is unclear which Vice
President first got office space in the Mansion. They also had a fall out over policy.
But Marshall was popular enough to keep on the ticket for a
second term. He was also an effective President of the Senate
and helped formulate the first rules
that allowed a closure vote to end
filibusters during war time. After World War I he became the first Vice President to convene and preside over Cabinet
meetings while Wilson was in France for Peace Talks.
After Wilson’s debilitating
stroke during his intense campaign for public support for the
League of Nations, Marshall refused Cabinet pleas to assume the duties
of the Presidency during Wilson’s recovery. The Constitution never explicitly identified
the circumstances under which this could be done or whether power could be returned to the President after a recovery. Wilson
declined to intervene fearing
that he could establish a precedent that
might be used in the future as a cover for
d’état. Instead, Wilson’s wife
Edith was said to have become the de facto President. After being notified of the
death of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge famously took the Oath of
Office of the Presidency by the light of a kerosene lamp in his
father's Plymouth Notch, Vermont parlor at 2 am August 3, 1923. His
father, a notary public administered the oath.
The next Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, was picked after a dead-locked convention
finally settled on Ohio’s Warren G.
Harding as the least offensive candidate to all party factions. Silent
Cal had gained fame as the Massachusetts
Governor who smashed the 1919 Boston Police Strike by firing the whole force and banning them
from any public employment for life.
That kind of anti-labor
toughness was music to the ears of Republican business backers. When the scandal
plagued Harding died on a west coast
tour in 1923 Coolidge became President.
He presided over the Jazz Age
boom years as a hyper conservative who
advocated minimal government action on
When Coolidge declined to run for a second full term
of his own, Herbert Hoover picked
the only person of non-European decent
until then to be Vice President. Charles Curtis of Kansas, the former Majority Leader of the Senate, was half Native American and an enrolled
member of the Kaw Nation.
FDR and Vice President John Nance Garner together before the bloom was off the rose. Garner's quip that the Vice Presidency was not worth "a warm bucket of spit." is his main legacy today.
The Great Depression ended
a nearly 70 year run of Republican domination of the White House interrupted
only by the terms of Cleveland and Wilson.
Roosevelt had a mini-parade of Vice Presidents in his unprecedented
four elected terms. The first, John Nance Gardner—Cactus Jack—to his admirers was Texan and
former Speaker of the House who was
brought on as a Southerner and staunch conservative to balance the ticket. Things were fine as long as FDR adhered to his campaign rhetoric of balancing
budget. But in the midst of bank failures and staggering
unemployment, Roosevelt turned to spending
money of direct relief and trying
anything that would stick to turn
the economy around. That experimentation quickly became the New Deal and a host of Federal programs that
Nance did not approve of.
None the less, the men ran again together in 1936. But Garner was opposed to the
administration’s support of unionization
particularly after the wave of sit-down strikes in 1937. He also recoiled
including equal benefits to Blacks and Mexican-Americans in programs, the high priority for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The final breech came when Gardner actively worked to kill Roosevelts Court packing scheme in 1937. The two men barely spoke after that and Gardner
was effectively the enemy of the New Deal from his chair as Senate
President. Perhaps that is why Gardner
came up with the pithy quote most identified with his office—“The Vice
Presidency is not worth a warm bucket of spit”—although the original remark evidently referred to a
fluid drained from lower parts of the anatomy.
Naturally, Roosevelt dumped
him in 1940 when he decided
to run for an unprecedented third term. His new Vice President was agronomist and Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, one of the most liberal and outspoken of the New Dealers. When war took over center stage, however, FDR and his right hand man Harry Hopkins began to look at Wallace’s brand of
New Dealers as an impediment to the war effort.
When the ailing Roosevelt ran for a fourth and final time he replaced Wallace with Missouri Senator Harry S.
Truman who had made a name for himself—as well as becoming
something of a nuisance to the
administration as the tough minded Chair
of the Senate Special Committee on Waste and Abuse in military contracts. Bringing him on board made things quieter
in the Senate while boldly staking out
credentials for the administration as its own watch dog. After taking
office in January 1942 Truman, despite Roosevelt’s alarming physical deterioration, was not brought into the inner circle at the White House and was kept in the dark about many military matters and about increasing tensions over post war
arrangements with Russia. Famously, he did not know anything about the Atomic bomb program until he was briefed
shortly after Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1942. No wonder he felt like “the moon and the
stars have fallen on me.”
Harry S. Truman did not get many moments with FDR before he died and was completely out of the policy loop.
Many people, not the least of which was Eleanor, thought
that Truman was a light weight and
unfit for the Presidency. Instead, he
would quickly prove to be both tough
minded and sharp in the way that
many widely read self-educated men are. Anyone who took Truman for a fool or pushover was in for a rude awakening. In 1948 with Congress in Republican hands, the Cold War getting under way
in earnest, and his own party shattered left and right
with the defection of the Dixiecrats over
his civil rights policies and his VP
predecessor Henry Wallace leading a challenge
from the left calling for accommodation with war-time ally the USSR, Truman fought back with his famous whistle stop Give ‘em Hell Harry tour and upset Republican Thomas Dewy to win a term on his own.
Perhaps it was the unexpected
success of Truman, but in his wake the Vice Presidency began to be seen
differently. Instead of a throw away office to be filled with any
politically useful hack it became
the grooming ground for future Presidential candidates. Almost every subsequent VP starting with Dwight Eisenhower’s uneasy relationship
with anti-Communist star Richard Nixon,
came to be viewed as the natural successor.
1952 GOP nominee Dwight D, Eisenhower, nearly dumped his anti-communist running mate Richard Nixon for a campaign fund scamming scandal until Nixon's televised Checkers Speech.
During the 1952 campaign Eisenhower had to come to
the defense of Nixon amid charges that he used a political slush fund as personal
income. Eisenhower came close to dumping him until his famous televised self-defense, the Checkers
Speech. Especially in his second
term Eisenhower used Nixon to represent the country abroad. He faced Yankee Go Home rioters in Latin America and engaged Nikita Khrushchev in a kitchen debate in an exposition in Moscow. After the
President’s heart attack, Nixon was included more regularly in high
level security briefings. Nixon
ran in 1960 and narrowly lost to John F.
Kennedy picked high powered Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson as his
running mate and then assigned him high level administration duties—a
break from the past—including overseeing
the nation’s space program. Other presidents would follow suit giving
their VPs more to do, including them in Cabinet and high level policy
discussions while they spent less and less time presiding over the Senate
except for ceremonial occasions and for
a dramatic tie vote breaker on an important issue came up. The Vice Presidency for the first time was
becoming fully integrated in the Executive Branch.
On November 22, 1963 Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force
One on the tarmac in Dallas with a stunned Jacqueline Kennedy still in
her blood soaked suit next to him.
Johnson, of course, became President when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. He would surprise many as a first Southerner
in the White House excepting border state Truman and Wilson whose mother was
a Virginian, since before the Civil War when he completed
Kennedy’s legacy and twisted arms to get two landmark Civil Right Acts passed.
He also launched his War on
Poverty, an echo of the New Deal.
On the other hand, he let himself be talked into ever deeper
involvement in the Vietnam War that
he had inherited from Kennedy. By
1968 he found himself abandoned by White Southerners who flocked to Alabama segregationist Governor George Wallace on one hand and rising anti-war protests on the
other. After a disappointing showing against Senator
Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire
primary Johnson went on television to
proclaim, “I will not seek, nor will I accept the nomination of the
Democratic Party for President.”Hubert Humphrey accepted the nomination for Vice President before a bitterly divided Democratic convention while police still rioted in the streets.
His VP, liberal icon
Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota,
was able to win nomination only after a Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 which was marked
by demonstrations and a police riot in the streets and chaos on the
floor. Humphrey lost that fall to Richard Nixon
on the comeback trail. Nixon ran as a law and order candidate with a secret
plan to end the war. He won in an Electoral College landslide.
He balanced the ticket with Maryland Governor Sprio T. Agnew who had a reputation as a relative
party liberal and as a Greek-American
was the first Vice President not of British
Isles or Northern Europe decent. Agnew became the administration’s designated attack dog going after
liberals and the critical press with famous alliterative sound bites—i.e. “nattering nabobs of
negativism. But while Nixon was slowly
being dragged down by the Watergate
scandal, Agnew was indicted for amazingly cheap and penny ante corruption as Baltimore County Executive and Governor even continuing to take cash as
Vice President. He was forced to resign
on October 10, 1973 and became the first and only Vice President convicted of
felony charges when he accepted a deal to plead guilty to a single count of tax evasion and money laundering on $29,000 in bribes as Governor.
Nixon then chose House
Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford of
Michigan—the first Vice President
chosen under the terms of the 25th
Amendment which allowed vacancies to be filled by appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate. By this time Nixon himself
was in deep trouble and facing possible impeachment. Legend
had it that he chose the affable but
supposedly low wattage Ford because
he believed that no one would drive him from office if the Congressman
was in line to take the job. In fact,
Democratic Speaker of the House Carl
Albert recalled that Congressional leaders from both houses and both
parties, “gave him no choice” but to pick Ford.
When Nixon resigned seven months later in August of 1972 Ford became the
first President to ascend to office without ever having run on a national ticket.
Nixon and Ford. As Nixon's presidency unraveled Ford became careful to
not be photographed with the president. Later he would pardon Nixon for
any crimes he might have committed and deflected criticism for that by
also extending amnesty to Vietnam Draft offenders.
President got to appoint his own Vice President and shocked conservatives
by naming liberal Republican icon former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Rocky became the first VP to occupy the
new official residence in
Washington’s in the former Naval
Observatory building. In
January 1979, two years after leaving office, Rockefeller died during a tryst with a 27 year old aide.
Although the pleasant Ford was a welcome change from the scowling and brooding Nixon, the weight of Watergate was too great to overcome. He was defeated by Democratic Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter and his
running mate, Senator Walter Mondale of
Minnesota. The Carter administration was
burned with the OPEC oil Boycott,
stagflation, crumbling rustbelt cities,
that famous malaise,
and finally the disastrous attempt to
rescue American hostages in
Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush at the 1984 Republican National Convention.
Ex-movie star and
conservative Governor of California Ronald Reagan swept the Carter Mondale team aside in
1980. Transplanted New Englander cum Texas oilman George H.W.
Bush, a former Congressman and CIA
Director, was Regan’s pick for Vice
President. When Reagan was wounded by
would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr.
Bush rushed back to Washington from
Texas but never assumed official duties.
Subsequently he and Regan began an unusually close relationship having weekly lunches together
he also accepted a number of high profile assignments from the President
in the national security area as
well as heading a waste in
government taskforce that began to shore up his shaky relationship with party conservatives.
New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro made a big splash as the first woman and the first ethnic major party nominee for Vice President but it was not enough to overcome Ronald Reagan's astonishing popularity.
In 1984 Reagan and Bush faced former Vice President Walter
Mondale and his running mate New York
Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman and first Italian
candidate. Although the earthy Ferraro bested the patrician
Bush in their sole Vice Presidential
debate, Reagan’s popularity coasted the ticket to an easy victory.
On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery to remove
polyps from his colon which
required him to undergo general
became the first Vice President to temporarily
assume the duties of President. He
was acting President for about eight hours during which time nothing much important happened.
Almost as soon as the second Reagan term began, Bush started
planning to his own run for the presidency. He raised money and courted
party leaders. He spent a lot of time
trying to placate conservatives who
were convinced he was a liberal in Texas clothing. In his convention acceptance speech in addition to
his famous 1000 Points of Light, he touched on and endorsed most
conservative hot button issues and uttered his equally famous “read my
lips, no new taxes!” pledge.
When Dan Quayle misspelled potato on a classroom visit he was widely and probably unfairly mocked as stupid.
For his running mate he chose youthful and obscure
Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, who
quickly turned out to be a pretty boy
light weight. Many
thought that Bush was nervous about being overshadowed by a better
known or more accomplished choice.
He said he thought Quayle’s good looks would help him with
women. No matter, the pair had no
trouble trouncing the inept campaign of Massachusetts
Governor Michael Dukakis and Texas Senator Lloyd Bensten. Bush thus became the first Vice President
elevated directly to the Presidency by election since Martin Van
Unfortunately for him, like Van Buren, he was destined to be
a one termer.
Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton burst onto the
national scene with high energy enthusiasm, boyish charm, a reputation
as a policy wonk, and a wife so politically talented
herself that they were advertized as getting “two for the price of one.” Despite bimbo eruptions and Hillary’s seeming
derision of moms who stayed home and baked cookies,
Clinton bested rivals including California Governor Jerry Brown to win
He defied conventional wisdom in picking a running
mate. He did not balance the ticket but
opted for another young moderate liberal Southerner, Senator Al Gore of Tennessee. Clinton said that he resonated with Gore and felt comfortable. Even their high power wives, Hillary and Tipper Gore seemed bonded. Instead
of sending his VP candidate separately out on the road as an attack dog saying things it was not polite for the Presidential nominee
say, both couples hit the road together in a campaign
coach road tour.
Happy warriors, the Clintons and Gores on their campaign bus.
The close relationship continued in office which was cemented
by an unusual two page written agreement
outlining Gore’s role as a chief
advisor to the president with weekly
scheduled meetings and daily access
as needed. Gore was given several
important assignments including work on
streamlining government and cutting
waste, encouraging technological
innovation including the use of robotics
and fostering the new information superhighway—the
also became an expert on the environment and the administration’s point man on that internationally
including being chief U.S.
negotiator and then promoter of
the Kyoto Accords. He also loyally stood by Clinton through the Monica Lewinski scandal.
It was always clear that Gore was the anointed successor
to Clinton. In 2000 he easily swept
aside a challenge from New Jersey
Senator Bill Bradley and sailed to the nomination after winning every
primary. His Vice Presidential choice
was Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman,
the first Jew on the national ticket
of a major party, an ardent supporter of Israel,
and a bridge to more conservative business
and finance oriented Democrats.
He faced the Governor
of Texas George W. Bush, the feckless and lazy son of the former president. The younger Bush had a hard time convincing red meat conservatives that he was not a
secret liberal one-worlder like his
father but eventually won over the religious
right as a born again believer. He wooed foreign policy hard liners by relying on former Wyoming Congressman and his father’s Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as his
top advisor. When he had the nomination sewed up he appointed Cheney
to lead a search for a Vice
Presidential running. Cheney reported back that after looking under every rock in America the
very most excellent and only choice was….Dick Cheney! But first Cheney had to scramble to move
back to Wyoming from Texas where he was a registered voter while
serving as the CEO of the oil industry conglomerate Halliburton to
comply with the Constitutional prohibition on the President and Vice
President coming from the same state.
Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of American politics.
It was a notoriously
hard fought election and polled dead even in Electoral College
projections down to the wire. On a long
election night it all came down to slow
reporting Florida where numerous
problems and irregularities were reported. Early in the morning the networks and wire services called Florida
for Gore, only to walk that back.
Next, Bush was reported to have a narrow lead. Problems with mysterious hanging chads on the ballot
punch cards were reported in heavily Democratic areas. There were days and weeks of drama before
the Supreme Court stopped an ongoing Florida recount and effectively anointed Bush
president. Bush lost the popular
vote to Gore but took the Electoral College 271 to 266.
Far from being cautious due to the narrow and questionable
circumstances of his election, from day one Bush behaved like a President
with an enormous popular mandate. He was all public swagger. He relied heavily on Cheney with whom he conferred daily and to whom he left
many of the details of running the government while he
reserved himself for “the big picture” and worked 4 hour days with afternoon
viewed himself as a kind of Grand Vizier
to an indolent Sultan. After 9/11 Cheney, the hero of
the neo-con movement, boldly pushed for and attack on Iraq and helped manufacture evidence of and
hysteria over weapons of mass destruction.
Cheney’s seeming domination over the President
continued well into the second term until Bush began to assert himself and ignored some of the Vice President’s advice. Their relationship began to cool and
became more strained when Cheney didn’t think the President was being aggressive enough in the ongoing
war. As President of the Senate, he even
signed on to a lawsuit against the Department of Justice over gun regulation in the District of Columbia. Still, he retained influence on the
President to the end.
His reputation as
the Darth Vader of American politics however, made it politically impossible for him to seek the Presidency himself. Even
his attempts to influence the 2008 Republican selection process against Arizona
Senator John McCain were unsuccessful.
He spent much of his time after leaving office being a go-to voice for discredited
aggressive neo-con policies and a reflexive
critic of the Obama administration.
The election of 2008 shaped up as a referendum on unceasingly unpopular Bush presidency, Democrats were
favored to take back the White House after already reclaiming majorities in the House and Senate two years
earlier. After Al Gore a gaggle of candidates entered the race but conventional wisdom declared that the nomination was Hilary
Clinton’s to lose. Minor
candidates quickly went by the wayside or remained in the race only
boy Senator John Edwards of North Carolina
and running mate of John Kerry in
2004 showed early strength running
as a progressive populist but
The race narrowed
down to a contest between Clinton and the very junior Senator from Illinois, Barak
Obama who had rocketed to the national spotlight on the basis of his memorable Keynote speech to the 2004 Democratic
Convention. A long and sometimes bitter primary season see-sawed between the
two leading candidates. But by early
summer the charismatic Obama, buoyed by heavy registration of young
and minority voters surged ahead to
what looked like an insurmountable lead. But Clinton vowed to stay in the race to the convention and her supporters mocked calls for party unity. After
Obama became inevitable there was a noisy flurry of Clintonistas—mostly women—vowing never to support Obama in November
no matter the consequences. But it turned out many of those stirring that pot were Republican plants and shills in a classic dirty tricks operation re-tooled for an era of bloggers. Most resentful
Democratic women quickly got over it and showed up in droves to support Obama in November.
Obama’s Vice Presidential choice surprised many. Delaware
Senator Joe Biden was a longtime Democratic fixture who had made an abortive
run for the nomination way back in 1988 and was one of the tribe of contenders quickly eliminated twenty years later.
Avuncular and folksy he strongly connected to White
ethnic working class voter whose security
even then was being threatened by an out-migration of jobs
from older industrial communities. He had endured unimaginable loss when between his upset victory in his first Senate race and his swearing into office
his young wife Neilia and one year
old daughter Naomi were killed and young sons Beau and Hunter were injured in
an automobile accident in 1972. A shaken Biden turned to his Catholic faith for support and became a
dedicated single parent. To maintain a stable life for his sons with
a network of family support, he kept his full time residence in the Wilmington suburbs and commuted each day to Washington via a 1
½ hour Amtrak ride.
In 1977 Biden married teacher
Jill Jacobs and began to build a new strong family as both pursued their careers. Jill went on to get a Ph.D. in education while teaching in high schools, a psychiatric
hospital, and at the college
level. In 1981 the Biden welcomed
daughter Ashley. The unusual attention given here to the
Vice Presidential candidates wife come because she quickly became the fourth member of a tightly bonded team with her husband, Barack and Michelle Obama. Their relationship on the campaign trail
and continuing into office were even closer than that of the Clintons and
Gore. Michelle and Dr.
Jill, who became the first spouse
of a President or Vice President to hold a paying job as an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), have worked closely together in high profile
support of children’s
literacy and in support of veterans.
On the other side, Arizona
Senator John McCain, the former Navy
pilot and prisoner of war in North Vietnam, finally secured the
Republican nomination despite the opposition of the parties growing ultra-right who regarded his occasional
departures from conservative orthodoxy as a self-described maverick made him a traitor. To shore up his shaky right wing and to appeal to those largely fictional feminists who would not support Obama shortly
before the convention he made what looked like an impulsive, but dramatic
choice of a running mate—Alaska
Governor Sara Palin. She certainly
roused the red-meat right but her bizarre
syntax, and seemingly willful
ignorance quickly made her a national
laughing stock. In the end McCain’s choice called into question the basic soundness of his judgement. The
rock-steady Biden, by contrast, did much to boost his Black running mate with
the white working class.
Sarah Palin was more than outmatched by Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential debate.
In office, Biden maintained a close relationship. As an experienced foreign policy expert he was included in all of the highest level national security discussions and was a
close collaborator with the President and Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton. Obama and
Biden continued the recent tradition of regular meeting and easy access to the Oval Office. The President entrusted him with numerous
special projects and commissions, including as coordinator for a national push to cure cancer.
In 2012 Biden was once again an energetic and effective
campaigner in the successful re-election campaign against Mitt Romney and Wisconsin
Congressman Paul Ryan, an architect of an unpopular government shutdown in a refusal to raise the debt limit. Despite predictions of a close race the
Obama/Biden ticket won 332 Electoral College votes to Romney/Ryan’s 206 and had
a 51–47 percent edge in the nationwide popular vote.
Biden was often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential
candidate, especially if Hillary Clinton, who delayed tipping her hand
well into 2015, decided not to run. When
his son Beau, then serving as
Delaware Attorney General, was on his deathbed with cancer, he appealed to his father to
run, and emotional Biden would later reveal.
In the end he declined to run and spoke kindly of both Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But some Party leaders who became nervous
that Clinton would falter or even be
indicted in an e-mail server scandal,
considered Biden a possible fall back to
keep the nomination falling to left socialist/populist Vermont Senator
Bernie Sanders. He apparently did
nothing to encourage the idea.
Clinton secured the nomination but faced an irreconcilable
Tomorrow—Enter Mike Pence and Kamala Harris
and a wild ride.