It is hard to visualize a situation where there are absolutely no candidates for President, so let’s look at it this way: What would happen if nobody actually won a Presidential election? Let’s say an election was disputed or undecided and we arrived at Inauguration Day without a President-elect or Vice President-elect.
Now, something like this has never happened, and when it comes to Constitutional crises where things aren’t clearly defined there is always some room for surprises. For example, when President William Henry Harrison died a month into his term in 1841, most American political leaders believed that the Vice President, John Tyler, would only be “acting President”. Tyler, however, quickly assumed the office of the Presidency in name, trappings, and all the power that came with it and set the precedent which all future Vice Presidents who assumed office would follow (and which was eventually codified in the Constitution with the 25th Amendment).
So, if no President or Vice President was been elected or qualified for office as of Inauguration Day, the 20th Amendment (ratified in 1933), states that “Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified”.
In other words, it would be up to Congress to decide HOW the President or Vice President should be selected and WHO the President and Vice President would be. Most likely, the House of Representatives would choose the President and the Senate would choose the Vice President. I make that assumption because that’s what would happen if no candidate won an Electoral College majority — the Presidency would be decided by the House and the Vice Presidency would be decided by the Senate.
But two Vice Presidents were non-WASPs: Charles Curtis (Herbert Hoover’s VP) was 1/4th Native American was the first President or Vice President with non-European ancestry and Vice President Biden is the first Roman Catholic VP in history.
The Vice Presidency is unique in that its power and prestige is largely a modern development. Now “modern” is used in different ways for different things. Many historians say that the first “modern” campaign was the 1800 campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Some say that the first “modern” Presidential election was the 1824 contest between John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William H. Crawford that was decided by the House of Representatives. But when I say that the Vice Presidency’s importance is a largely a “modern” development, I mean within the lifetime of most of the people reading this.
Garret A. Hobart, McKinley’s first Vice President, was probably the first Vice President with any power or responsibility outside of the VP’s Constitutional role as president of the Senate. President McKinley had a lot of respect for Vice President Hobart and they were friends, and Hobart served in a role not too different from that of a present-day White House Chief of Staff. Hobart was an anomaly, though. After he died in office, the VP once again became “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived”, as the first Vice President, John Adams, described it.
To a certain extent, Richard Nixon (as Eisenhower’s VP from 1953-1961) and Lyndon Johnson (as JFK’s VP from 1961-1963) expanded the duties a bit. Nixon was a bit more visible partly because he was a rising young star in the GOP, but also because President Eisenhower, who was the oldest Chief Executive in history upon leaving office, suffered a heart attack, a mild stroke, and serious intestinal problems during his term. LBJ despised the Vice Presidency but he was one of the first VPs regularly invited to Cabinet meetings and was given a highly-visible and important role as chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council during the space race with the Soviet Union and participated in the tense deliberations throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It was Walter Mondale (Jimmy Carter’s VP from 1977-1981) who helped mold the Vice Presidency into what we know it as today — an integral member of the President’s Administration with a spot in the Cabinet and National Security Council, and an office in the White House itself. George H.W. Bush (Reagan’s VP from 1981-1989) and Dan Quayle (Bush 41’s VP from 1989-1993) weren’t quite as powerful as Mondale, but still much more involved in the workings of the Executive Branch than most of their Vice Presidential predecessors.
Al Gore (Bill Clinton’s VP from 1993-2001) and Dick Cheney (Bush 43’s VP from 2001-2009) took the Mondale model of the Vice Presidency and, with the blessing of their Presidents, made the position into one of the most powerful posts in the world. Clinton and Gore, both Southerners, close in age, and not too far apart politically, changed the idea that running mates should be different from one another and balance each other out. Once elected, Clinton gave Gore tons of responsibility and power — not quite a co-Presidency, but something more than second fiddle to the Oval Office.
Cheney, of course, was so influential that many people considered him the power behind the throne — a dark force who was the instrument pushing through the most controversial policies of George W. Bush’s Administration. Now, that isn’t quiet correct. It’s clear now that George W. Bush had far more control of his Administration than people gave him credit for and that Cheney’s power and influence was largely neutralized in Bush’s second term as Cheney’s allies were forced out of the Administration and Bush became more confident in his duties.
As for Vice President Biden, he took the role as Barack Obama’s running mate with the promise that he would have the President’s ear. Biden wanted to scale back some of the seemingly limitless power that Cheney supposedly held at the beginning of George W. Bush’s term, but Biden also wanted a real role in the Obama Administration and he has had one. Because of his lengthy experience in the Senate and political connections, and Obama’s relative inexperience, Biden has been called upon time-after-time to close the deal on important legislation from the Affordable Health Care Act to the negotiations over the debt ceiling and economic policy. Biden is the Mariano Rivera of the Obama Administration — a superstar legislative liaison with a unique skill set that most Vice Presidents have lacked. Vice Presidents Mondale, Bush, Quayle, Gore, and Cheney all served in Congress, but none of them had the experience on Capitol Hill that Biden had. And none of them built relationships with Senators and Congressmen like Biden did for nearly 40 years. He has been more than active and influential — Joe Biden has been invaluable to the Obama Administration.
You’re right, it doesn’t matter whether or not President Buchanan was gay, but for the historical record, we’d love to have a definitive answer. Unfortunately, that’s never going to happen. So, we have to use the evidence that we have and make our own personal conclusions.
I’ve answered this question in-depth before, so I’m just going to copy and paste that answer. Since this a question that is asked frequently and a genuine mystery to historians, I, like many other historians, have looked at Buchanan’s life and have a personal opinion on the question. Personally, yes, I do think that James Buchanan was a homosexual. Still, Buchanan has been dead for almost 145 years and contemporary opinions will always be speculation. Here’s what I’ve previously written when asked about President Buchanan’s sexuality:
It is very difficult to say that this President or that President was gay or not without simply guessing or making baseless accusations. My personal opinion is that it’s not our business to say that someone is or is not gay unless they choose to address it and make it our business.
It’s even more difficult to go back through history and say “so-and-so was obviously a homosexual because ___________”. I mean, let’s be honest, the first five Presidents wore knee breeches, buckled shoes, and powdered wigs, so we’d already be overloaded with suspicion right there.
Without going too far and becoming gossipy and National Enquirer-ish, I will point out the evidence which some believe strongly suggests that James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, was homosexual.
Buchanan was a lifelong bachelor — the only President to never marry. Early in life, he had been engaged to Ann Coleman, the daughter of a wealthy Pennsylvania manufacturer who began worrying about rumors that Buchanan was marrying her for her money. After a difficult period in their relationship, Coleman broke off the engagement in 1819 and died shortly thereafter, likely by suicide. Buchanan was devastated by Coleman’s death and was shunned by Coleman’s family who blamed him for Ann’s demise. At that time, Buchanan vowed to never marry and he retained Ann Coleman’s letters for the remainder of his life.
It is possible that Buchanan was so devastated by the death of his first love that he couldn’t imagine spending his life with another woman. However, that doesn’t explain why he spent so much of his life with another man.
In 19th Century Washington, D.C., it was not unusual for Members of Congress to room together in boarding houses while Congress was in session. Many political deals were debated and decided in Washington’s boarding houses which were set up to appeal to a Congressman’s need for prepared meals and affordable housing. Buchanan, however, was a fairly wealthy man for his age and time period. The affordable housing that resulted from taking on a roommate wasn’t a necessity for Buchanan. It was a choice. And, instead of living with a variety of different colleagues over the years, Buchanan lived with one — Alabama Senator William Rufus DeVane King — for fifteen years.
The close relationship between Buchanan and King raised eyebrows even in their own time. Contemporaries referred to them as “Siamese twins”. Andrew Jackson called Buchanan and King “Aunt Fancy” and “Miss Nancy” respectively. President Polk’s law partner, Aaron Brown, went further, referring to King as “Mr. Buchanan’s wife”. The relationship between Buchanan and King was interrupted from time-to-time by each man’s foreign service (Buchanan as Minister to Russia during Jackson’s Presidency; King as Minister to France during Polk’s).
Unfortunately, the long letters that Buchanan and King wrote to each other throughout their lives are unable to explain their close relationship. After each man’s death, their nieces burned almost all of their correspondence with one another.
There are hints which further the mystery in the few pieces of correspondence between the two men that have survived. In 1844, President Tyler appointed King as the Minister to France and King wrote to Buchanan, “I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation. For myself, I shall feel lonely in the midst of Paris, for here I shall have no Friend with whom I can commune as with my own thoughts.”
With King in Paris, Buchanan wrote an equally curious letter to a female friend of his in Washington, “I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a-wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”
Whether or not Buchanan and King were truly homosexual will likely never be known. This much is true: In 1852, King was elected Vice President and died of tuberculosis in April 1853, 45 days after his inauguration. In 1856, Buchanan was elected President and served one term while his adopted niece, Harriet Lane, performed the duties of official White House hostess.
To this day, Buchanan and King are the only lifelong bachelors to ever serve as President or Vice President.
The Electoral College actually never gathers together for a meeting. The Electors who American voters chose on Election Day last month will meet on December 17th in their respective state capitals. The Electoral College meets to officially cast their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December following Election Day.
While each state has their own process for the meeting of their Presidential Electors, they don’t differ all that dramatically. There are various formalities and for the casting of the votes and some strict protocols for officially sending the votes to state officials and then to Congress, which officially counts and certifies the Electoral College results. That takes place in a Joint Session of Congress in early January and that responsibility is one of the first major actions of the new Congress. That means that, for the 2012 election, it will be the 113th Congress (which begins on January 3, 2013) instead of the 112th Congress (the Congress in office at the time of the 2012 election) which counts and officially certifies the Electoral College results. In our case, that’s probably a good thing because if anybody could screw up counting the Electoral votes, it’s the abysmal 112th Congress.
Interestingly, it is usually the Vice President, in his Constitutional role as President of the Senate, who presides over the Joint Session and the certification of the Electoral College results. Sometimes, that can lead to what must be an awkward and probably even somewhat heartbreaking experience of a Vice President presiding over the official certification of an election that he lost — something that has happened a few times recently: 1960 (Nixon, lost the Presidential election to Kennedy), 1968 (Humphrey, lost the Presidential election to Nixon), 1980 (Mondale, as Carter’s running mate), 1992 (Quayle, as Bush’s running mate), and, of course, 2000 (Gore, as famously seen in Fahrenheit 9/11.)
Well, I’ll only be 36 years old — Constitutionally eligible to be President, but just barely — and woefully inexperienced, so I’d need someone who is respected and has a solid resume. How about Leon Panetta?
Actually, Panetta would be a damn good running mate for someone (not just in the hypothetical “Anthony for President” silliness). Panetta served eight terms in Congress, was President Clinton’s OMB director and White House Chief of Staff, and is now President Obama’s Secretary of Defense after serving the first two years of the Obama Administration as CIA Director. That’s about as solid of a resume for a present-day American public servant as I can think of. Any Democrat running for President in 2016 should have him on their short list for Vice President.
So, there you go, that’s my ticket: Bergen/Panetta 2016 (although “Bergen/Panetta” kind of sounds like the name of a concentration camp.)
(And the previous sentence is a clear example of why I could never be President.)
I think the VP debate is far more important this year than in other years, especially right now because the momentum is in Romney’s favor. If Ryan wins the debate handily, Obama better pack a lunch and be ready to decimate Romney in the second and third Presidential debates because that’s what it will take to reverse the momentum.
In my opinion, the Obama campaign has to let Biden be Biden tonight. In the past year, the media (particularly Drudge) salivates every single time Biden gets in front of a microphone because they think he’s going to say something that derails the campaign. Here’s the thing that Democrats should think about, though: in all of those “gaffes” that Biden has made, when has he said something that we don’t agree with? Health care reform was “a big fucking deal”. His comments on gay marriage weren’t indefensible; instead, he pushed the President to take a definitive stand on the right side of history. People aren’t worried that Biden is dumb or offensive; they’re worried that he’s honest. Biden is what Harry Truman would be like had Truman lived and served in this time.
In 2008, the campaign muzzled Biden at the VP debate because they were worried he would beat Sarah Palin so badly that people would start feeling sorry for her. Everyone knew that she was out of her league during the debate — even SHE knew she was out her league in the debate. All Biden had to do was let her talk and he would win. The campaign was smart in 2008 because, if Biden was unleashed, it would have become uncomfortable. Americans are fine with seeing someone get destroyed, but there is that point where you start worrying when you see the victor standing there covered in blood and laughing while everyone is saying, “Wow, I feel sorry for her.” They did what they had to do in 2008, and Biden knew his role and played it perfectly, even though that’s not Biden’s natural state. That’s why he stepped off the stage at the debate with Palin and told his campaign staff, “You guys owe me. You don’t know how much restraint that took.”
Four years later, the Obama campaign not only owes Joe Biden, but they NEED him. Paul Ryan is not Sarah Palin. Yes, he looks like creepy-ass Gabe from The Office and I don’t agree with his ideas, but he actually HAS ideas. Paul Ryan doesn’t simply memorize talking points and prep for the debate like it’s a junior high school play; he formulated much of the opposition’s policy in Congress, particularly when it comes to the budget. Ryan is one of the Republican Party’s intellectual centers and a guy who is not only smart enough to formulate his party’s policy, but ballsy enough to propose and defend it, will be a formidable opponent. This isn’t a slam dunk (Copyright ©2003 George Tenet), and Biden will have to be on his game. Yet, Ryan cannot underestimate Biden, either. Biden is such a nice, charming, likeable guy that it’s easy to forget that he is a lifelong overachiever. When he was elected to the Senate in 1972, he didn’t reach the Constitutional age minimum for taking his seat (30 years old) until two weeks after his election. He’s one of the longest-serving Senators of all-time. He is tough (widowed just after his Senate election and a single dad during his early years in Washington) and honest (that’s what his “gaffes” are, pure honesty). And he is experienced. It is not a coincidence that the biggest legislative victories of the Obama Administration have been projects where Biden has played a major role as a liaison between the White House and the Capitol. I think President Obama needs Joe Biden more than most people realize, and tonight’s debate is another situation where the loyal VP might have to save his President’s ass.
In order for him to do that, the safety has to come off. Biden has to be able to be Biden because he can and will frustrate and surprise Paul Ryan. Ryan is a numbers guy, Biden is an empathetic, I-feel-your-pain, blue-collar politician. We see the pictures of Paul Ryan in his hunting gear or wearing his Green Bay Packers colors, but I do not believe that Paul Ryan can out-blue-collar (I just made that phrase up, so let’s just accept it) the Scranton-born, Wilmington-raised, Amtrak-riding, Capitol creature that Joe Biden truly is. And this is a debate which focuses on domestic issues and foreign policy. Congressman Ryan is the GOP’s guiding light on economic and budget issues, but he cannot hold a candle to Vice President Biden on foreign policy. Biden became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Paul Ryan started kindergarten in 1975. For Biden’s final 10 years in the Senate, he was either the chairman or ranking member of the powerful committee. The Vice President will chew Ryan up on foreign policy, so the GOP’s VP candidate is going to do his best to score his points on domestic policy and the economy.
I’m very much looking forward to this debate tonight. I think it will be much more interesting than Obama and Romney because the VP candidates will be far more likely to take some risks. I’m sure Biden is spoiling for a fight and aiming to prove his worth once again by recapturing the momentum lost by the President last week. Ryan is a brilliant young Congressman who does the one unique thing that makes him stand out amongst the 535 members of the House and Senate — he leads and stands on his ideas, not his party’s ideology.
Biden shouldn’t have to restrain himself tonight and Paul Ryan is not Sarah Palin, so this won’t be like 2008 which felt more like Fisher-Price’s “My First Debate” so that Biden couldn’t make Palin cry. I’m pumped and I’ll be doing a Smart-Ass Commentary™ tonight (I’ll probably post it early tomorrow morning).
ADDENDUM: If Paul Ryan wanted to throw the Vice President off his game tonight, he should come out and pull the Palin bit, wink at the camera, and then turn to Biden and say, “Can I call ya Joe?” That would be awesome.
The other thing that would be awesome — and I don’t know why a candidate doesn’t try this just to be completely condescending — is if Biden just referred to Ryan by like 15 different names, as if he is just a cookie-cutter House Republican (which Ryan actually is not). How annoyed would Ryan get if Biden would refer to him as, “My opponent, Mr. Cantor” or “I’m going to have to disagree with you, Congressman McCarthy”?
That last paragraph is probably a good example of why nobody has ever asked me to help with debate prep.
Overall, just 76 Americans have held the office of either President of the United States or Vice President of the United States. We have had 43 men serve as President (Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms is why Barack Obama is #44) and 47 Vice Presidents (14 of the VPs served as President, too). Of those 76 men, only one has been cremated — Spiro Agnew, 39th Vice President. Other than Agnew, every other President or Vice President who has died so far has received a traditional burial.
Agnew, whose father was a Greek immigrant, was Richard Nixon’s surprise choice as Vice President in 1968. After Nixon and Agnew were reelected in 1972, charges that the Vice President had been involved in crimes including extortion and bribery while he was the County Executive in Baltimore, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President caught up with him. Although the Watergate scandal was beginning to bring down President Nixon, Agnew’s career ended first. To avoid a criminal prosecution, Vice President Agnew worked out a deal with prosecutors and pleaded no contest to tax evasion charges and resigned in disgrace on October 10, 1973. To fill the vacancy in the Vice Presidency, President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford to replace Agnew in the first exercise of the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Less than a year later, Nixon also resigned in disgrace and Ford became President.
Since part of the plea bargain resulted in him being disbarred, Agnew’s good friend, Frank Sinatra, helped the former Vice President pay his legal bills while Agnew found work as a business consultant. Other than a 1980 autobiography calledGo Quietly…Or Elsein which the disgraced former Vice President suggested that he resigned out of a fear that Nixon’s Chief of Staff Alexander Haig would have him assassinated, Agnew kept a fairly low profile.
Following his resignation, Agnew never spoke to Nixon again. Many people, from Washington insiders to regular Americans, were surprised when Agnew attended Nixon’s funeral in California in 1994. It was a return from exile of sorts as Agnew — invited by Nixon’s daughters — was seated with the official mourners, over 100 members from both houses of Congress, former Nixon Administration officials, and the five living U.S. Presidents: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
One year later, in May 1995, Agnew returned to Washington, D.C. and the United States Capitol. In an emotional ceremony, the U.S. Senate unveiled a bust of Agnew — an honor accorded to every Vice President in recognition of their Constitutional role as president of the Senate. Agnew, still looking very much like he did nearly 30 years earlier, was appreciative. A month earlier, the portrait painted of him during his time as Governor of Maryland had been put back on display at the State House in Annapolis by Maryland’s current Governor Parris Glendening for the first time in 16 years. In 1979, the portrait had been removed and hidden away in storage because of Agnew’s scandals. In Washington, Agnew’s words mirrored Governor Glendening’s suggestion that the honors weren’t simply for the man, but for the offices he once held. As the bust was unveiled at the Capitol, Agnew told the audience, “I’m not blind and deaf to the critics that feel this is a ceremony that should not take place. This ceremony has less to do with Spiro Agnew than the office I held, which was conferred upon me when the American people elected and re-elected me vice president of the United States.”
On September 17, 1996, the 77-year-old former Vice President checked into a hospital in Maryland with an illness that was found to be a previously undiagnosed case of acute leukemia. Just three hours after being admitted to the hospital, Agnew died. Agnew’s cremated remains were buried in the subtly marked grave pictured above in a quiet Baltimore County cemetery with no display of his electoral accomplishments. Agnew’s wife, Judy, died at the age of 91 in June 2012.
That’s a question that I think George H.W. Bush probably asks himself. Quayle was a strange choice for VP. Keeping him on the ticket in 1992 is more understandable because dumping your Vice President is a difficult and damaging thing to do. By dumping your VP from the ticket, you’re basically saying that you screwed up with the very first decision of magnitude that you had to make. Politically, it looks like a panic move because, in almost all cases, it is a panic move. Plus, Bush 41 was old-school and loyalty was extremely important to him.
If you missed Part I, featuring John Kerry, you’re lucky. If you survived Part I, you’re now in a better place because it’s time for my favorite member of the Obama Administration, one of my favorite Democratic politicians of my lifetime, and, let’s be real, the greatest thing to ever come out of Delaware (even though he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania — Dunder Mifflin represent!) — the 47th Vice President of the United States of America, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.!
•People can disagree about politics and policies and social issues and a myriad of other flashpoints, but how can anyone dislike Joe Biden? Sure, maybe you wouldn’t vote for him, but wouldn’t you love to hang out and watch a football game with him? It’s easy to hammer him about his gaffes, but I would wager that no one who has worked closely with him has ever said, “I hate that Biden guy.”
•And he immediately sweet-talks his wife. This is a man who knows where his bread is buttered, if I can use a phrase that makes me sound like an 80-year-old man.
•Wow, it’s taken me this long to realize that the Vice President’s daughter is hot? What’s my problem? Hello, Ashley Biden.
•With that said, I feel it’s important to note that Abby Huntsman still holds they key to my heart. Also, a restraining order.
•No current American politician is as good as Bill Clinton, but Vice President Biden is a very underrated speaker with a similarly natural, folksy delivery. Sure, he slips up from time-to-time and says something dumb, but I still feel like he’s an underrated orator.
•Joe asked Jill to marry him five times and “I don’t know what I would have done on that fifth time had you said no.” Come on, how can you not love Joe Biden?
•As a speaker, Biden is usually hot or cold. When he’s cold and undisciplined, he trips up and says something goofy. Just a few minutes in tonight and the VP is on fire. Great delivery so far.
•As good as Clinton was on Wednesday night, Biden’s speech is tighter, less rambling. This is one of his better speeches ever.
•I’m glad John Kerry showed up earlier so that I could be mean-spirited because I don’t have much to be a smart-ass about with the Vice President.
•”Loyalty” is definitely the one word I’d use to describe the Biden Vice Presidency. By the nature of the office’s historical evolution, it is the recent VPs, particularly Mondale, G.H.W. Bush, Gore, Cheney, and Biden (and, to a lesser extent, Nixon and LBJ), who stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. I think Cheney was more powerful, but Biden is better and more helpful to his President. If I were to rank the “best” Vice Presidents in history, I think it would be Gore at #1 and Biden at #2.
•Speaking of Al Gore…where the hell has he been? He split with Tipper and there were those allegations of some misconduct with a masseuse and now he’s Democratic persona non grata, isn’t he?
•I wonder if Gore, John Edwards, and Jimmy Carter are sitting somewhere all pissed off because the Democratic Party intentionally gave them the wrong directions.
•I can just imagine those three calling and trying to make arrangements for the Convention while Debbie Wasserman-Schultz tells them, “Oh, that’s weird…we totally sent your tickets to you…..Yeah, those were the only ones available, so if you can’t find them, I’m really sorry………You know, there’s a lot of television coverage and that’s much better than being in the arena………No, of course we’re not hiding you like the GOP hides George W. Bush during Convention time.”
•If any party delegates — Republican or Democratic — are reading this, do you realize how silly your dumb hats look? Nominating a President and building a party platform is important work; it’s not New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
•The Vice President is giving one hell of a speech. This is way better than I expected.
•It drives me crazy to see people in the audience watching the speech through their phone or iPad screen. IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! JUST EXPERIENCE IT!
•”God love Jennifer Granholm. Wasn’t she great?” — No, I’ve gotta disagree with you there, Mr. Vice President, she came across like a lunatic. I thought she was going to end her speech with “Cocaine’s a helluva drug.”
•Oooh…I want one of those circular UAW Obama/Biden signs! Those things look badass!
•Damn, they got a whole wheelchair section on the floor of the Convention hall. They should call it the “FDR Section” just to be cute and see if anybody complains.
•Biden halted the crowd when they booed Mitt Romney’s name and said, “I don’t think he’s a bad guy.” Thank you, Mr. Vice President. We don’t have to hate each other to disagree with each other’s politics. Except for Rick Santorum. We should definitely hate him.
•”Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive” really is a good tag line.
•With Biden’s reputation for verbal gaffes, I bet President Obama and his aides hold their breath every time the Vice President gets that smirk on his face before he finishes one of his punchlines.
•The Vice Presidential candidate’s usual role at Conventions is to be the hatchet man (or woman), but Biden’s not doing a hatchet job; he’s giving a very focused speech.
•I’m sorry, guys, I just don’t have much to poke fun at here. I’ve been a fan of Vice President Biden for a long time, but I’ve never seen him like this. That was undoubtedly the best speech of Joe Biden’s life and I think it even rivaled President Clinton’s barn-burner from Wednesday night. Damn solid speech, Mr. Vice President. I’m proud to have Joe Biden on my side.
We’ll finish this up in Part III with the main event as President Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for a second term as President.
As we continue the journey towards Election Day, we also continue our look at the data and statistics from nearly 225 years of Presidential history in order to compare the Presidents and Vice Presidents with each other and see where Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would fit in if they happened to win in November.
Today, we look at the Presidents and Vice Presidents organized by their age upon taking office. In most instances, this reflects their age on Inauguration Day when they proudly stood in front of the nation and their fellow Americans and took the oath of office. However, some instances reflect more somber, tragic moments when a Vice President was required to fulfill his Constitutional responsibilities and assume the Presidency upon the assassination, sudden natural death, and, in one case, resignation of the elected leader.
PRESIDENTS: AGE AT INAUGURATION
We look first at the ages of our Presidents, from oldest-to-youngest, on the day that they assumed office. The oldest President, Ronald Reagan, was inaugurated just 17 days short of his 70th birthday and was nearly 78 years old when he left office in 1989. He fared much better than the second oldest, William Henry Harrison, who was 68 on Inauguration Day 1841 and dead one month later. The youngest President ever was Theodore Roosevelt, who assumed office upon President McKinley’s assassination and wasn’t elected in his own right until 1904. The youngest person to be ELECTED President was John F. Kennedy.
Age | President | (Term as President)
69 years, 349 days: Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
68 years, 23 days: William Henry Harrison (1841)
65 years, 315 days: James Buchanan (1857-1861)
64 years, 223 days: George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)
64 years, 100 days: Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
62 years, 98 days: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
61 years, 354 days: Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
61 years, 125 days: John Adams (1797-1801)
61 years, 26 days: Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
60 years, 339 days: Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
58 years, 310 days: James Monroe (1817-1825)
57 years, 353 days: James Madison (1809-1817)
57 years, 325 days: Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
57 years, 236 days: John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
57 years, 67 days: George Washington (1789-1797)
56 years, 223 days: George H.W. Bush (1981-1989)
56 years, 107 days: Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
56 years, 65 days: Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
56 years, 11 days: Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
55 years, 351 days: Grover Cleveland-2nd term (1893-1897)
55 years, 196 days: Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
55 years, 122 days: Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
55 years, 87 days: Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
54 years, 206 days: Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
54 years, 198 days: George W. Bush (2001-2009)
54 years, 151 days: Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
54 years, 89 days: Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
54 years, 34 days: William McKinley (1897-1901)
52 years, 253 days: Jefferson Davis (1861-1865) [Confederate President]
52 years, 111 days: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
52 years, 20 days: Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
51 years, 350 days: Chester Alan Arthur (1881-1885)
51 years, 170 days: William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
51 years, 33 days: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
51 years, 30 days: Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
51 years, 8 days: John Tyler (1841-1845)
50 years, 184 days: Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
49 years, 304 days: James Garfield (1881)
49 years, 122 days: James K. Polk (1845-1849)
48 years, 101 days: Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
47 years, 351 days: Grover Cleveland-1st term (1885-1889)
47 years, 169 days: Barack Obama (2009- )
46 years, 311 days: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
46 years, 149 days: Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
43 years, 236 days: John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
42 years, 322 days: Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
2012 NOTE: If elected, Mitt Romney will be 65 years, 314 days old on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2013). Somewhat surprisingly, that would actually make Romney the 4th OLDEST President in American history. In fact, he’d very nearly be among the top three oldest Presidents since Romney would be just one day younger than the third oldest President, James Buchanan, was when he was inaugurated in 1857.
VICE PRESIDENTS: AGE AT INAUGURATION
The Vice Presidency seems to favor youth more than the Presidency. Including Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, we have had 13 Vice Presidents under the age of 50, including the youngest person ever elected to national office, 36-year-old John C. Breckinridge, as well as Richard Nixon, who was elected VP before his 40th birthday. Yet the oldest man elected to national office (outside of Reagan’s second term) was 71-year-old Vice President Alben W. Barkley, and the two longest-living men ever elected to national office were Vice President John Nance Garner (died two weeks shy of his 99th birthday) and Vice President Levi P. Morton (died on his 96th birthday). Also, despite the Vice Presidency’s youthful history, a whopping SEVEN Vice Presidents have died in office — all of natural causes.
Age | Vice President | (Term as Vice President)
71 years, 57 days: Alben William Barkley (1949-1953)
69 years, 38 days: Charles Curtis (1929-1933)
68 years, 230 days: Elbridge Gerry (1813-1814)
66 years, 331 days: William Rufus DeVane King (1853)
66 years, 165 days: Nelson Rockefeller (1974-1977)
66 years, 61 days: Joe Biden (2009- )
65 years, 221 days: George Clinton (1805-1812)
65 years, 178 days: Thomas Andrews Hendricks (1885)
64 years, 292 days: Levi P. Morton (1889-1893)
64 years, 102 days: John Nance Garner (1933-1941)
61 years, 16 days: Henry Wilson (1873-1875)
60 years, 257 days: Harry S. Truman (1945)
60 years, 145 days: Gerald Ford (1973-1974)
59 years, 356 days: Dick Cheney (2001-2009)
59 years, 189 days: Charles Gates Dawes (1925-1929)
58 years, 355 days: Thomas Riley Marshall (1913-1921)
57 years, 247 days: William Almon Wheeler (1877-1881)
57 years, 132 days: Adlai E. Stevenson (1893-1897)
56 years, 138 days: Richard Mentor Johnson (1837-1841)
56 years, 65 days: Andrew Johnson (1865)
53 years, 325 days: Thomas Jefferson (1797-1801)
53 years, 238 days: Hubert H. Humphrey (1965-1969)
53 years, 173 days: John Adams (1789-1797)
53 years, 131 days: James Schoolcraft Sherman (1909-1912)
52 years, 297 days: Charles Warren Fairbanks (1905-1909)
52 years, 274 days: Garret A. Hobart (1897-1899)
52 years, 237 days: George Mifflin Dallas (1845-1849)
52 years, 146 days: Lyndon B. Johnson (1961-1963)
52 years, 105 days: Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945)
51 years, 189 days: Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865)
51 years, 72 days: Spiro Agnew (1969-1974)
50 years, 340 days: John Tyler (1841)
50 years, 150 days: Chester Alan Arthur (1881)
50 years, 89 days: Martin Van Buren (1833-1837)
49 years, 56 days: Millard Fillmore (1849-1850)
49 years, 15 days: Walter Mondale (1977-1981)
49 years, 0 days: Alexander Hamilton Stephens (1861-1865) [Confederate VP]
48 years, 243 days: Calvin Coolidge (1921-1923)
45 years, 346 days: Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873)
45 years, 26 days: Aaron Burr (1801-1805)
44 years, 295 days: Al Gore (1993-2001)
42 years, 351 days: John C. Calhoun (1825-1832)
42 years, 256 days: Daniel D. Tompkins (1817-1825)
42 years, 128 days: Theodore Roosevelt (1901)
41 years, 351 days: Dan Quayle (1989-1993)
40 years, 11 days: Richard Nixon (1953-1961)
36 years, 42 days: John C. Breckinridge (1857-1861)
2012 NOTE: If elected, Paul Ryan will be 42 years, 356 days old on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2013), which is nine days before his 43rd birthday. That would make Ryan the 7th youngest Vice President in American history — a few days older than John C. Calhoun, but nearly a year younger than Al Gore.