Snap Fact #274
President Obama’s Choice of Vice President Joseph Biden in 2008 Contrasts Radically with Governor Romney’s Selection of Paul Ryan! 
President Obama’s Choice of Vice President Joseph Biden in 2008 Contrasts Radically with Governor Romney’s Selection of Paul Ryan!

One of the first important decisions every presidential candidate makes is selecting his running mate. The Vice President presides over the Senate, according to the Constitution, but, increasingly in recent years, the Vice President has taken on major leadership roles within the US Government. The Vice President has represented the United States and the American people around the globe. Most importantly, the Vice President is the “President-in-waiting,” who legally becomes President if the President is either incapacitated or dies or resigns. So, the Vice President is literally a “heartbeat away” from the Presidency. Numerous Vice Presidents, at an accelerated pace over the last 100 years, have become President. John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt’s two term VP, famously called the Vice Presidency not worth “a bucket of warm piss”; and John Adams, our nation's first vice president, described the position as: "...the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

History has proven Garner and Adams wrong. Since Garner stepped down from the Vice Presidency in 1941, five of his successors have risen to the Presidency. Harry Truman became President on the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard M. Nixon became President in 1968. Kennedy’s Vice President Lyndon Johnson became President in 1963, following the assassination of JFK. Nixon’s Vice President Gerald Ford became President upon Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Reagan’s Vice President George H.W. Bush was elected in his own right in 1988. Two other recent Vice Presidents, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Al Gore in 2000, have been the Democratic Party Presidential nominees. Although neither Mondale nor Gore was elected, seven of the last 14 Vice Presidents since Harry Truman have either become President or have run unsuccessfully on a major party ticket.

Each Presidential candidate’s selection of a Vice Presidential running mate has proven crucial to the future leadership of the United States. It is arguable that nothing so defines a presidential candidate’s vision of the future and that candidate’s personal competence as the selection of a Vice Presidential nominee. The stark difference between Governor Romney and President Obama’s respective Vice Presidential selections speaks volumes about their character and judgment.

Vice President Joe Biden has proven one of the great Vice Presidents in US history. He had served in the US Senate for thirty-six years before becoming Vice President. He had run previously for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and was universally acknowledged as an expert in many domestic and foreign policy areas. Within the Democratic Party, Vice President Biden as a Senator had come from the center of his party as a moderate progressive. Among the eighteen Democratic vice presidential nominees since 1900, Biden ranks as number eight in the statistical spectrum from most moderate to most liberal Democratic Party Vice Presidential nominees. In his own right, Vice President Biden’s warmth and humanity have endeared him to the American public, even among those who don’t agree with his positions.
Governor Romney’s selection of Representative Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s selection of Joe Biden. To be fair, Paul Ryan is a highly intelligent, articulate, youthful, and attractive candidate. He is far more credible in his personal qualities than Sarah Palin. However, his political positions place him to the far right of the Republican Party. He ranks alongside Representative Michele Bachmann as the most conservative member of the House of Representatives. Among the fourteen Vice Presidential nominees of the Republican Party since 1900, Paul Ryan ranks as the single most conservative, right wing candidate, even further to the right than Dick Cheney. In contrast to Governor Romney’s unquestionably successful career at Bain Capital, Representative Ryan has never run a business or done any more than represent his district in Wisconsin the last 14 years. That is not nothing, but it hardly rises to the standard which Governor Romney has articulated as qualification to become President, nor does it compare to Vice President Biden’s readiness to become President, should the need ever arise.

Paul Ryan has famously led the “Tea Party” activists to a budget which would “gut” Medicare and Social Security as we know it, in order to give even larger tax reductions to millionaires and billionaires. Frankly, from the perspective of Democratic Party partisans for President Obama, Paul Ryan is a “dream come true.” Up until his nomination of Ryan, Governor Romney had been able to mouth platitudes about cutting the deficit and trimming the budget without being specific, although he had publicly embraced the Ryan budget plan. Now the Presidential race has become defined as a stark choice between the far right, extreme conservative economic vision of Romney and Ryan, for the Republicans, and the moderate and progressive economic vision of Obama and Biden, for the Democrats.
Obama-Biden partisans have to wonder what the Republicans could possibly be thinking. The selection of Paul Ryan, from a political science perspective, adds virtually nothing to the electability of Governor Romney. Among the statistical ranking of potential vice presidential nominees before his nomination, in terms of their ability to add to Romney’s electability, Ryan ranked 14th among 16 potential Vice Presidential running mates.

The 2012 Presidential race has become the unambiguous contrast in domestic policy perspectives in a generation [1]. Romney and Ryan are on record to reduce Medicare and Social Security for the Middle Class in order to give further tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. However slow the recovery, however slow the growth in the job rate, however high the unemployment remains, slow progress is obvious – too slow for all, including President Obama. The President projects plans for investment in infrastructure, education, and technological innovation, alongside sensible adjustments to entitlements and revenue increases through loophole reduction and a return to earlier modestly higher rates of taxation for the very wealthy. 

What do the Republicans have in mind for America? Since Paul Ryan has become the prospective Republican vice presidential nominee, we now know clearly what the Republicans have in mind for America. Obviously, the voters in November will make the final decision.