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The Vice Presidency: Power on Hold

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, September 8, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0720
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Vice President Kamala Harris

The position of America’s vice president carries no Constitutional duties except to succeed to the presidency if the incumbent dies in office or is otherwise unable to do the job; to preside over the Senate in a mostly ceremonial way; and to break tie votes.

Once dismissed by a former occupant as “not worth a bucket of warm spit,” over the years the vice presidency has emerged as a more respected position as holders of the office became closer advisers to the presidents who shaped policy at the highest level.  

In all, 15 vice presidents went on to become president, including Joe Biden. Eight succeeded to the top job because of a death. And a few became the most consequential vice presidents in U.S. history because they strongly influenced decisions made in the Oval Office. 

Kamala Harris, the current vice president, has not yet emerged as a power player in the Biden administration but her role is still evolving. She is already a historic figure as the first African American woman to hold the post. If Biden doesn't run for re-election in 2024, Harris would be at the center of American politics as a possible successor. 

Veteran White House correspondent, historian, and author Ken Walsh explores how those who served in the second-highest post in American government contributed to the evolving state of the vice presidency.

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