What Kind of VP Will Pence Be?

Veep thoughts.

What kind of VP will Mike Pence be? Whatever kind his president wants. It’s hard to read the Pence-Trump relationship. On one hand, Trump nearly forgot to thank Pence during his victory speech; on the other, Trump eventually settled on Pence to lead his transition team. It’s impossible to tell how they’ll work together. Here, three ways this could play out for the Hoosier governor.

The Weak Veep: Harry Truman

Like most presidents before him, FDR had little use for his running mate. Truman didn’t get much face time. (While in office, he met with the president only eight times.) He didn’t get many policy briefings—to the point that he had no idea about the atomic bomb when FDR died early in his fourth term. Still, being a heartbeat away remains one of the VP’s key duties, and once he got up to speed, Truman was a very effective president.

dickcheneyThe Chief Operating Officer: Dick Cheney

VPs since Truman have taken on bigger roles—none bigger than Cheney’s. When George W. Bush asked Cheney to vet potential running mates, Cheney ended up landing the gig himself. It was the first of many instances in which he quietly drove the Bush agenda. The president usually (though not always) cast the vision, but Cheney made it happen, detail by detail, including much of the post-9/11 foreign policy and the legally dubious domestic surveillance program.

joebidenThe Liaison: Joe Biden

Republicans won’t want to hear this, but the best-case scenario for Pence might be Uncle Joe. Like Pence, Biden served an inexperienced president; like Pence, Biden had years of legislative experience. And Biden put that experience to work, negotiating with Congress and overseeing the stimulus. He liked to say his job meant being “the last guy in the room with the President.” But that was only because the President wanted him there.