Pfotenhauer can't name Vice President's duties
Nick Cargo and David Edwards
Published: Wednesday October 22, 2008

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Sarah Palin's definition of the role of the Vice President sounds "strange" to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, "and I've been in this city a long time."

"Simply put," said Matthews as he asked McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer to define the duties of the Vice President, "either a person understands the role of the Vice President or they don't." Governor Palin, he suggested, has spent more time shopping for her wardrobe than learning her potential job duties.

"A Vice President has a really great job," Palin told Denver's KUSA-TV on Monday, "because not only are they there to support the President's agenda, they're like the team member--the team mate--to that president. But also, they're in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to, they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better..."

"Obviously the role of the Vice President is to support the President, but also to preside when necessary over the U.S. Senate," Pfotenhauer said.

"No, that's not the role of the Vice President," Matthews countered. "You've got it wrong. I gave you a shot, Nancy. I want you to try again. What is the constitutional role of the Vice President in the Constitution?"

"I'm not a constitutional scholar," Pfotenhauer said, "but I've been reading the commentary on this, and it seems to me that people are parsing words, and [Palin] was obviously trying to explain to a young child what the Vice President would do."

The sole constitutional purpose of the Vice President, Matthews explains, is to replace the President under tragic circumstances or cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. "It has nothing to do with policymaking, nothing to do with Senate leadership on either side of the aisle," he said. "There is no policy role there whatever for the Vice President...The Vice President has a formal role only. [Palin] believes, somehow, that the Vice President of the United States has some kind of commanding policy development role and can lead the U.S. Senate. Where'd she get this from?"

This video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast October 22, 2008.

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