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Will Palin Be 'The Tiebreaker' Next Year?

In the wake of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's coming-out party at the Republican National Convention, GOP campaign strategists on the Hill are hoping to capitalize on the vice presidential nominee's newfound popularity with the party base to boost their coffers for November.

On Saturday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out an email solicitiation under the name of Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the committee's vice chairman, titled "Palin's The Tiebreaker." It suggested that Republican voters should back the party's Senate candidates and presidential ticket. so Palin can be on hand to break any tie votes.

"Sarah's speech rocked the house!" Hatch wrote, referring to Palin's well-received convention address. "She took on Obama and a liberal media that fear her message of conservative reform. 37 million Americans watched this speech, and I bet they liked what they saw.

"Palin is also an important part of our firewall. You see, one of the official duties of our Vice President is to break tie votes in the U.S. Senate. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen! In fact, Bill Clinton needed then Vice President Al Gore's tiebreaking vote twice to pass the last gas tax increase."

For all the debate over John McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate and whether she is qualified for the job, there has been little discussion of what the vice president actually does beyond potentially replacing the president if he dies or is incapacitated. As Hatch points out, the VP is indeed the Senate President, a title that brings little actual responsibility beyond the aforementioned tiebreaking votes.

How often does this happen? Vice President Cheney has broken ties eight times during the Bush administration, most recently on a March procedural vote on the Alternative Minimum Tax. Gore broke four ties in the eight years he served as vice president.

Of course, tie votes happen more often when the Senate is closely divided (the chamber was actually split 50-50 for a portion of Bush's first term). But while the chamber is at 51-49 now, few election observers expect it to be that close in the 111th Congress. Democrats are widely expected to pick up at least a handful of seats, and the real question is whether there's any chance their majority might grow to 60 next year.

"I have been telling you that the Senate is the firewall that protects our country from irresponsible Democrat legislation, and now is your time to act," Hatch wrote. "With just 60 days until Election Day, we must act quickly to make sure liberals don't get the 60 Senate seats required to break our Senate firewall."

Hatch and the NRSC hope that Republicans who love Palin will now open their checkbooks for the party's Senate candidates. But if the Senate elections break as they're currently forecasted, Palin's opportunities as vice president to break some ties might be few and far between.

By Ben Pershing  |  September 8, 2008; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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Comments

This could certainly get some money from the right-wing of the Republican party, but what about Republican moderates? Why would they be enthusiastic about Palin, when she is essentially the symbol of McCain's rejection of the moderates in favor of his evangelical base?

Posted by: Patrick Huss | September 8, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

A most astute question, Patrick. The answer may lie in the fact that a label of "moderate" doesn't actually describe much. It merely means "not extreme."

There is a lot about Palin that isn't very extreme except her performance in going after corruption. Like most politicos, she's bounced about on earmarks and other acts that can be interpreted as moderate if not mildly corrupt. Slipprey definitions?

Coming from Alaska she's very accustomed to zero-sum games. The bear wins or you win. BHO, in contrast, likes win-win situations. They exist, but not terribly often, unfortunately.

Posted by: Ralph | September 8, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

With Obama the Christ in the lead, Democrats will win all 100 Senate seats in November!

Posted by: Joe Biden | September 8, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That was quite a little dance there Ralph.
While I in no way dispute or disagree with your definition of moderate, I do not concede that it "doesn't actually describe much". If you are a moderate Republican, it describes your entire political outlook. Certainly it is easy for someone not a moderate Republican to dismiss that, but "not extreme" Republicans have contributed a great deal to our country. Many of them, having become disillusioned with the direction of the Republican party in the past several years, were looking to John McCain to reject or at least neutralize the party forces driving the party in a direction "not extreme" Republicans found objectionable. My point was, and is, that there no longer is any doubt that McCain, and any Republican candidate for that matter, is and will continue to be, beholden to the "not moderate" wing of the party. That is very disappointing.
It goes without saying, Ralph, that you are entitled to your opinion as to where you believe Sarah Palin sits within the political spectrum. Forgive me if I look to more obviously reliable sources, like Mrs. Palin's own words, for where I choose to place her along the spectrum.
Did a bear try to kill Sarah Palin? And she killed it? No? Then lets reserve the hyperbole for less substantial conversations.
This isn't a Republican/Democrat issue, it is a Republican/Republican issue. Contrary to your presumed alternative - Obama, the real and dangerous alternative is moderates not voting at all. Be as dismissive as you wish, but Sen. McCain can not afford to lose those votes if he really wants to be President McCain.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | September 8, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Anybody can be VP, Look at Palin. All you have to do is get a Presidential candidate that can't energize his base, and their you are. His campaign will write your speeches, and tell you what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. You don't have to even do interviews or have a press conference. The campaign like Mccains' will set you up with easy interviews which make you look like you know what your talking about when you really don't. Now isn't that an easy way to be just a heart beat away from the presidency? Ask Palin, its her new role.

Posted by: Susan | September 9, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

She-who-sticks-pins-in-trooper-dolls is teh firewall? absolutely hilarious. what happens next? do they make her de-facto president via the AIP when they lose and red states secede? that will make them some money.

Posted by: preAmerikkkan | September 9, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse


DOUBTFUL. Gov. Palin will be home someplace in Alaska on 20 Jan 2009. Under House Arrest for Obstruction of Justice amoungest many other Crimes.

MCCAIN. Will have a meltdown sometime, during one of the debates. His REAL Military Records will be OPENED for ALL AMERICANS to see. Just call him Songbird, the North Vietnamese did.

Posted by: N. B. Forrest | September 9, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Is the GOP somehow suggesting that any VP other than Palin would vote against a McCain administration's position on a bill in the Senate? The only requirements that exist to break a tie by the VP are 1) punctuality and 2) the energy to press a button or call out yae or nay.

The GOP has not only lowered the bar, they dug a trench for it.

Posted by: muD | September 9, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

All the moderate republicans who contributed little, or none, to the workings of the disastrous-rubber-stamping-congress, the Bush enablers, should boycott McCain's campaign. He and his cohorts, responsible for much of the last eight years of turmoil, have the chutzpah to get politcal now and chant for "change". He is rejecting his own voting record of the last few years and those of his own party. Or so he says. Don't bet on it - he will revert to the same old same old, and we can't afford these tricks.

Our electorate, easily seduced by a new and pretty face, without expending any sort of deep thought to the words uttered, may now be coalesing around the GOP ticket, but they will come to their senses when the facts are fully exposed. The mere thought of electing a James-Dobson-in-a skirt for VP is more than scary. We all have had more than enough of outright lies and manipulations, distortions of facts and figures to get ahead in the last 8 years and in this contest for POTUS. Time to get real and learn some lessons.

Posted by: jblee | September 9, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

No. ex-governor Sarah Palin will not be the next tie-breaker. John McCain should have his head examined to pick this person as candidate for president. Her very inexperience in government would be the downfall of United States. We need someone as president who would be strong and firm in the face of attrition. Ex-governor Palin does not have what it takes to be president. She may be attractive, but it is not attractiveness that can take on the leaders of the world, much less the Congress of the United States.

Posted by: richardcolonel | September 9, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Let's just assume for a moment that McCain/Palin win the election. Sarah Palin would then ascend to the tiebreaker position. There is no reason to believe that Palin wouldn't fall into Dick Cheney's shadow and follow a similar path. She would be casting the deciding vote for her party's favors in the Conservative bastion. They have anointed Palin to the throne of the party's kingdom and every kingdom needs its queen.

Posted by: Maria A. Pflug | September 9, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Palin - tie breaker - scary thought

www.womenagainstsarahpalin.blogspot.com

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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