Yes, Vice Presidential Picks Do Matter

It is often said that the vice president matters chiefly because he is “a heartbeat away from the presidency.” It is, of course, true. Historically, the VP has replaced a sitting president nine times (eight because of the death of the president, and one because of the resignation of the president). So around 20% — one out of five — of our 44 presidents came to hold that office because of succession. Therefore, it is important that a presidential candidate choose his running mate wisely.

But there is another, overlooked aspect of the importance of the vice president. It must not be forgotten that, as Aaron Mannes — scholar of the vice presidency — writes on his blog, many VPs “do have political ambitions and that their actions can be shaped with an eye to their own future candidacies.” (Remember Al Gore?)

Reviewing the 2000 book “Wreath Layer or Policy Player?: The Vice President’s Role in Foreign Affairs”, the published dissertation of bestselling Reagan biographer and Conservative Review commentator Paul Kengor, Mannes recounts an example used by Kengor:

[I]n 1983 VP Bush traveled to Europe to push for the deployment of Pershing missiles, which was running into domestic opposition in the potential host countries. By all accounts – both in the general press and from administration figures – Bush did a fine job, bolstering deployment supporters and responding to critics. On the other hand in 1986, Bush went to Saudi Arabia to encourage the Saudis to keep oil prices low, which was devastating the Soviet economy. Instead Bush told them the US needed price stability, the opposite message the Saudis had been getting from Reagan and his senior cabinet officers. Kengor hypothesizes that low oil prices were hurting the oil industry and the states where it is based and that Bush wanted their support for his own upcoming Presidential run.

Kengor came to the conclusion, Mannes writes, that

VPs at the end of their career may be better able to serve the President objectively and not seek to protect their future political careers. Since the publication of Kengor’s book the United States has seen two VPs who saw that position as the apex of their career – Cheney and Biden. In some respects Kengor’s observation seems correct – Cheney and Biden’s service (for better or worse) appears to be entirely focused on serving their President.

There is an even more dramatic example. During the Second World War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was extremely ill. For most of the war, his VP was Henry Wallace — a diehard Soviet sympathizer. He thought Stalin was the champion and savior of the masses. At one point, in fact, he visited a Soviet work center and found it to be Heaven on earth (blissfully unaware that he was actually visiting one of Stalin’s Gulags). He would sneak all kinds of military secrets to Soviet intelligence. FDR removed him from his 1944 ticket and replaced him with Harry Truman — who would become President when FDR died in 1945. In 1948, Wallace would run for President as head of the Communist-controlled Progressive Party – specifically to derail Truman’s resistance to Soviet aggression.

Ann Coulter wrote about this in her 2003 book Treason:

Incredibly, if Roosevelt had died one year earlier, Stalin might have immediately gained control of the United States presidency, Treasury Department, and State Department. Soviet dupe Henry Wallace would have become president, and it is very possible that he would have made Soviet spy Harry Dexter White his Treasury secretary and Soviet spy Alger Hiss his secretary of state.

(Nowadays, of course, Ann doesn’t seem to mind Russian dupes and their Kremlin-stooge entourage — she even worked in the primaries to clear the field of conservatives who oppose the Evil Empire.)

Even without these counterfactuals, the death of FDR did change the way the vice presidency works. As Aaron Mannes writes in his review of Kengor’s “Wreath Layer or Policy Player?: The Vice President’s Role in Foreign Affairs”:

Kengor notes that one important factor in the increased foreign policy role of the vice president was the rocky succession by Truman after FDR died. Not only did Truman not know about the atom bomb project, he was also unfamiliar with FDR’s negotiations with Stalin about post-war Europe and had not even met the Secretary of State. Because of that instance, there have been many recommendations for expanding the vice president’s role in foreign policy.

Sometimes we are lucky to have great vice presidents. It is how the presidencies of Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman came to be; men who would not have otherwise become president.

So yes, Americans should pay close attention to the VP debates. Despite the impression we often get, the VP does matter. (For more from the author of “Yes, Vice Presidential Picks Do Matter” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

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Ben Carson Just Made a Major Announcement About VP

Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson left the door open on Tuesday to serving as vice president in a Trump administration.

Fox Business host Neil Cavuto, interviewing Carson from New Hampshire, pressed him on this issue as primary voters began casting ballots. The Republican hopeful recently settled for a fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucus and has polled at the bottom of the pack in the Granite State.

“Would you ever be open to a VP spot [with Trump]?” asked Cavuto, Mediaite reported.

“I would have to have major philosophical alignment with whoever it was. I would have to have guarantees that I could do some substantial things,” replied Carson. “I certainly would sit down and discuss it” . . .

“Rather than get into that, let’s say as long as there is significant philosophical alignment, I wouldn’t have any problem. … I’m aiming to really change this country in the same way that I came up with new ways to do very complex things that people have been trying to do for a long period of time. That’s what I want to do with this country,” said Carson. (Read more from “Ben Carson Just Made a Major Announcement About VP” HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.

Obama Not Bluffing Over Iran Military Threat, Biden Tells AIPAC

Photo Credit: Chip SomodevillaBarack Obama’s threats to use military force to prevent Iran securing a nuclear weapon are more than idle bluffs, vice-president Joe Biden told the biggest pro-Israeli lobbying group Aipac on Monday.

Biden said that while the US preferred a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran, a military option remained on the table.

“The president of the United States cannot, and does not, bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing,” Biden told the audience in Washington. Israel is seeking assurances of support from the US, should it decide to launch air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

There has been scepticism about Obama’s commitment to a military option against Iran, given the administration’s general unwillingness to be drawn into new conflicts after the experience of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some observers feel that Obama’s threat is aimed purely at putting pressure on Iran to resolve the standoff diplomatically and not embark on another conflict.

Pro-Israel supporters of the military option, speaking at Aipac’s annual conference, attempted to counter Obama’s reticence by insisting the military option would only require an overnight air strike, rather than a prolonged conflict.

Read more from this story HERE.

Seen a Threatening Tweet? Alert the Secret Service!

Twitter users sent more than 6.5 million Tweets during the third presidential debate Monday – and a few of them were death threats against President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Less than 24 hours later, the Secret Service took to Twitter in what the department calls a new tactic to gather information on potential threats against the people they protect.

“To report a tweet that concerns you,” @SecretService wrote Tuesday in its first such Tweet, “call the nearest field office in your state.” The agency posted a similar message Wednesday morning.

The Secret Service wants to be aware of what messages are being disseminated on Twitter as the social networking website grows, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. The Secret Service has been on Twitter for more than a year and has no other social media accounts.

“We’re not an intelligence agency – we’re consumers of information,” Donovan said. “We cast a wide net for information, and that includes law enforcement agencies, federal agencies and the general public.”

Read more from this story HERE.

Media Scratching Its Collective Head Over Joe Biden’s Smile (+video)

By Mackenzie Weinger. While members of the media disagreed over who won the vice presidential debate — or whether it was a draw — there was one subject they couldn’t stop talking about: Vice President Joe Biden’s constant amusement.

Fox News’s Brit Hume predicted that voters will pick a debate winner based on whether they liked Biden’s smirking and laughing or thought it was disrespectful to GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s remarks.

“What you saw while Paul Ryan was talking, was smirking, laughing, smiling, mugging by the vice president,” Hume said. “And my sense about it was that it was so compelling that people probably couldn’t take their eyes off of it. And so it’ll come down to whether people thought that was attractive or not. Myself, I didn’t. I thought it was unattractive, I thought it was rude and I have a feeling it will come across to an awful lot of people as rude. It looked like a cranky old man to some extent, debating a polite young man.”

NBC News’s David Gregory said supporters of Biden might be pleased with the performance, but it may have alienated other viewers.

“The smile, the laugh, I think a lot of people may view that and think that he was a little too hot, too aggressive, maybe condescending,” the “Meet the Press” host said. “I think supporters of the president and Joe Biden will say, hey this was refreshing. He was feisty, he was aggressive, he was seeking in some ways to belittle Ryan as a challenger here in the arena and that was something we didn’t see out of the president.” Read more from this story HERE.

Video: Biden’s Quirky Debate Laughter

Here’s a good video synopsis of Biden’s laughter episodes during last night’s debate.

His behavior was so outrageous that Chris Wallace called it the most-disrespectful performance he had ever seen.

Other pundits believe that Biden probably energized his base but alienated undecided voters.

Watch this clip and you decide whether Biden’s jesting helped or hurt the Obama/Biden campaign:

The Vice Presidential Debate: Someone Was Missing

Hold it, I’m confused. I watched all of the vice presidential debate last night, and someone did not show up. Vice President Joe Biden was there—how could one miss him, with all the grinning, grunting, interrupting, and sneering. But where was the Ayn Rand-worshiping, rape-redefining, fanatically exercising zealot who wants to throw grandmothers off of cliffs and whose budget plan is, according to the president, “thinly veiled Social Darwinism” that is “antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility”? That Paul Ryan was nowhere to be found.

What America saw instead was a young and likable and knowledgeable conservative worried about the current trajectory of fiscal, monetary, foreign, and social policy. Where Biden harrumphed, Ryan calmly litigated President Obama’s failed record. Twice in eight days, the caricatures against which President Barack Obama and Biden are purporting to run have been exposed as grotesque exaggerations. The liberal attempt to frighten America with the illusory specter of an extremist Republican ticket dissolved on first contact with, well, the actual ticket. The reality principle asserted itself once again. We have an open race.

Perceptions matter. Why did 67 million people watch the first debate? One reason may have been that Americans, open to an alternative to the incumbent, wanted to know who the Republican nominee actually was. They only had vague knowledge of Mitt Romney going into the Denver bout—and their impression was not favorable.

What they knew was largely limited to the messages of $217 million in negative advertising from Obama and his allies: Romney was rich, secretive, out of touch, paying little in taxes, hiding his tax returns, stashing money in the Cayman Islands, singing out of tune, shipping jobs overseas with little thought of the lives he affected, dismissing out of hand 47 percent of the country, in favor of raising middle-class taxes and health-care costs for seniors, and waging a “war on women” with Todd Akin to “turn back the clock” on women’s rights.

The stories told about Romney in the media were no more flattering. Casual consumers of the news would have learned that the former governor of Massachusetts once bullied a child at his prep school; had catered to the most extreme wing of his party in pursuit of the GOP nomination; had insulted the highly sensitive and excitable Brits on the eve of the London Olympics; was gaffe-prone; had jumped the gun in his response to the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo; was either micro-managing or had little control over his campaign; was changing strategy on the fly; and was such a hopeless loser that the election basically was over. Obama had it in the bag. How could he not? Romney was trash—wealthy, radical, belligerent refuse.

Read more from this story HERE.

Unbelievable: Obama Was Guest at VP Debate Moderator’s Wedding, Appointed Husband to Head FCC

President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.

After TheDC made preliminary inquiries Monday to confirm Obama’s attendance at the wedding, ABC leaked a pre-emptive statement to liberal-leaning news outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast Tuesday, revealing what may have been internal network pressure felt just days before Raddatz was scheduled to moderate the one and only vice-presidential debate Thursday night.

Both Politico and The Daily Beast jumped to ABC and Raddatz’s defense. The Huffington Post, another liberal news outlet, joined them shortly thereafter, while calling “unusual” ABC’s attempt to kill the story before it gained wide circulation.

Genachowski — called “Jay” at the time of his wedding, sources told TheDC — and Raddatz would go on to have a son together before their divorce in 1997. They have both since remarried to other people.

A source who attended the 1991 wedding told TheDC that Obama was also a guest there, and remembered that a man by the name of “Barry Obama” was among the guests dancing at the reception.

Read more from this story HERE.

Reagan and Ryan: Time for bold colors, no pale pastels

At one of the first CPAC’s, Ronald Reagan exhorted the GOP to raise “a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.” Paul Ryan, who came of age during the Reagan’s Presidency, shares that view along with the vision for an alternative and much brighter future for America, if we have the courage to believe and to act.

In 1975, when Reagan made this speech, he recognized the Democrats’ views no longer aligned with the majority of the American people. He understood that the New Deal and the Great Society had run their courses and had been shown to be fundamentally flawed. They relied a mistaken notion that government somehow had the ability to efficiently allocate resources for hundreds of millions of people and that individuals did not want to be rewarded for their hard work and risk taking.

In the speech Reagan identified the following agenda as vital to restoring America’s promise:

1. Reduce federal spending and get the nation back to a balanced budget.
2. Lower tax rates and simplify the tax code.
3. Unleash the free market and recognize it, and not the federal government, as the primary provider for the people’s needs.
4. Restore sound money.
5. Roll back destructive job crushing regulations by the federal government.
6. Return to limited government; reverse the nation’s drift towards socialism.

In the years immediately following Reagan’s 1975 speech, the economic conditions grew even worse. Under the leadership of President Jimmy Carter and a Democratic Congress, the nation was experiencing double-digit inflation, interest rates of over 20%, rising unemployment on its way to above 10%, dropping real median incomes, and a rising poverty rate.

Paul Ryan identified the similarities to our time in a speech he gave at the Reagan Library this past May. “[T]he parallels between 1980 and today are so striking. Now, as then, we face not just a failed President, but a failed ideology. We face a pessimistic mood in the nation’s capital – a belief that our best days are over and the only thing left to do is manage the nation’s decline. But we have the same opportunity today, to reject this defeatist attitude and embrace a positive reform agenda capable of kick-starting a new era of prosperity.”

After becoming President in 1980, Reagan implemented much of the agenda that he identified during his CPAC address. His revolution included fundamental tax reform, ultimately lowering the rates to a top rate of 28% for individuals, while broadening the base and eliminating tax loopholes and tax shelters (which allowed the wealthy or politically connected to avoid tax liability). Reagan also slowed the growth of federal domestic spending to its lowest level since World War II: a great achievement, given the Democrats controlled the House for the entire eight years of his Presidency and the Senate for two of them. He also cut unnecessary and burdensome regulations on businesses and privatized government services performed better and more efficiently by the private sector.

The result of implementing the Reagan agenda was the greatest economic expansion in American history with over 19 million new jobs created with a population that was 85 million less than today. Unemployment dropped to 5 percent. Meanwhile, because of the incredible economic growth, revenues to the Treasury doubled.

Ryan’s plan incorporates all the key areas of Reagan’s agenda. It takes government spending head on including entitlements, which account for over 50% of the budget. It simplifies the tax code, bringing the top individual and corporate rates to 25% while closing loopholes and broadening the base. It also eliminates job-crushing regulations like those created by Obamacare. It facilitates a return to sound money by taking away the Federal Reserve’s need to print money to cover our nation’s debt, which is how 60% of our current deficit spending is financed. Overall, it promotes economic growth, which will lead to higher revenues to the Treasury and more jobs.

The President has already started demagoguing Ryan’s Plan, while speaking in broad platitudes about responsible spending (of borrowed and printed money) and investments in our future (echoing his rhetoric of 2008), but offering no plan. In a speech at Council Bluffs, Iowa earlier this week he said, “Paul Ryan’s vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with…They have tried to sell us to trickle down theory before. Guess what, every time it has been tried, it has not worked. It did not work then, it will not work now. It won’t create jobs, it won’t lower our deficit, it is not a plan to move our economy forward. We do not need more tax cuts for our wealthiest Americans, we need tax relief for working families.”

Mr. President, your recounting of the facts is entirely false. Reagan’s economy created more jobs in the year 1984 alone–4.1 million–than you’ve created in your entire Presidency. It brought hundreds of billions more in tax revenues, and got the economy moving again.

Reagan in his CPAC address said, “Our task is to make [the people] see that what we represent is identical to their own hopes and dreams of what America can and should be.” Ryan, in his Reagan Library speech, agreed saying, “A bold reform agenda is our moral obligation. We have an obligation to provide the American people with a clear path that gets our country back on track.” Then as now, it’s no time for pale pastels.

The Myth That Paul Ryan’s Pro-Life Views Will Hurt Romney

By Dan Riehl. The media and Democrat spin machine are looking for everything they can to attempt to tarnish Republican Vice Presidential nominee Rep Paul Ryan. One part of that campaign is the claim that Ryan’s strong pro-life views may hurt Romney’s chances in the Fall.

The Hill speculates how Ryan may hurt Romney on the issue. The article relies on a number of abortion-rights supporters, including the Obama campaign as sources.

In reality, it’s wishful thinking, myth creation and advocacy, not journalism. It is an accepted truth in Presidential politics that Vice Presidential candidates do not win, or lose national campaigns. While 2008′s Palin-bashing is one example of Democrats trying to spin and hurt the GOP ticket, one should also consider the case of Dan Quayle.

Despite his having had an accomplished and capable career in the House prior to running for Vice President, the media destroyed his image during the campaign. It did nothing to impact the outcome. If Americans seriously voted for Vice President, one can only imagine how badly Barack Obama would have lost in 2008 with Biden along for the ride to assure old hand political insiders.

In reality, it is quite possible that Ryan will help Romney with women voters. They aren’t all eighteen years old, after all.  Read more from this story HERE.

This is what Fox News says about Ryan attracting an older female demographic to Romney:

[T]he Republican vice presidential candidate is far more popular among seniors than he’s given credit for.

Same goes for women. And independents.

Surveys conducted shortly before Mitt Romney’s VP roll-out show Ryan actually polls fairly well among all three of these groups. And while Democrats claim to be ecstatic at Romney’s choice — they say he’s an easy target, and they’ve already gone to town portraying him as “extreme” — the bookish lawmaker from Janesville, Wis., could end up bringing more votes to the ticket than he turns away.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 31 percent of likely senior voters gave Ryan a “very favorable” rating, compared with 21 percent of all legal-age voters giving him that rating. Just 16 percent of seniors gave him a “very unfavorable” rating.

So while Democrats are chipping away at Romney in Florida as the GOP candidate visits the Sunshine State on Monday, drawing attention to Ryan’s controversial Medicare overhaul plan, polling suggests seniors might be at least amenable to the VP pick.