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Choosing a Vice President: Why the Second Spot Is of Primary Importance

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0554
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
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Over the years, presidential nominees’ choices of a running mate have reflected everything from an afterthought to a carefully calculated balancing act. While the duties of the vice president are spelled out in the Constitution, how that person is selected and deployed in the campaign and in office seems to change with every election. 

Join historian Ralph Nurnberger as he clarifies the official aspects of the position and   explores the importance of the vice-presidential nominee to the overall election. The shifting criteria used to make the decision for the number-two slot has changed the course of history. After their first terms, Lincoln replaced anti-slavery Hannibal Hamlin with racist Andrew Johnson, and FDR dropped Henry Wallace for Harry Truman.

As tumultuous as it is to change presidents every four to eight years, it’s worthwhile to understand how they made their selection for vice president, and how substantive that supporting role is during their time in office—because the chosen person is only a breath away from taking over their role.

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