What is meant by the term 'vice president'?

The vice president is below the president in rank and Obama’s Vice President is currently Joe Biden. Since the passage of the 12th amendment, the vice president can be elected jointly with the president as his running mate or they can be elected separately or indeed appointed independently after the president's election. The Vice President often ‘balances the ticket’ in terms of geography such as JFK who chose Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice president because he was from Texas a southern state. They can also balance the ticket in terms of age and race such as Obama’s selection of Biden. The role of the Vice President is to be the speaker in the Senate and so acts as the eyes and ears of the President in the Senate. He also has the casting vote in Senate votes and presides over impeachment proceedings of federal officers. The vice president is known as being “a heartbeat away from the presidency” as he is to act in place of the president on the event of his or her death as well as upon resignation or incapacity as stated in Article II of USC. An additional role of the VP is to be the president’s persuader for legislation such as Cheney phoning 55 Republicans to get Bush’s Detainees Bill through.  If the president is not present, dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to fulfil his or her duties, the vice president will generally serve as president. Many view the Vice Presidency as a presidential training ground as 13 VPs have gone on to be President.  In spite of this, the role can be seen as merely ceremonial and it was famously said to be “not worth a pitcher of warm spit” (Garner). However, Clinton’s VP, Al Gore was viewed as an intellectual heavyweight and often put the finer detail into Clinton’s policies and he is widely regarded as the most influential VP of the twentieth century. Yet perhaps Joe Biden has brought the role of the VP back to its traditional ceremonial role as he does not have the status of his two predecessors. Ultimately the strength of the role of VP depends on the popularity of the President, his relationship with the President, events and ability. 

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