Austin Hill

The Republican convention ends. The polls tighten. Romney visits storm-ravaged Louisiana. President Obama visits military families in Texas.

And then the American news media was disrupted with this wacky little headline: “Biden Does Retail Politics, Kisses Supporter On Lips.”

Last Friday afternoon, in the midst of all the other important things going on in the world, Vice President Joseph Biden made a “surprise” campaign stop in Canfield, Ohio. Standing around greeting attendees at the annual Canfield Fair, Biden served-up his usual repertoire of everyday-guy quips and goofy-uncle type witticism. According to one reporter he shook hands with a young boy sporting a short “buzz” style haircut and told him “I used to have hair like that. Look what happened…”

Mr. Biden has provided lots of comic relief during his term as Vice President, a term that bears a striking contrast to the unusually stoic and substantive eight years of Dick Cheney. But what if the unthinkable were to happen and Joe Biden had to step-up and be President? Is America ready for a Biden Presidency? And is Biden up to the task?

Presidential elections are not won or lost according to the number two nominee on the ticket. But Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is most certainly being viewed through the “what if he became President?” filter. It is likewise fair and reasonable to raise these same types of questions of Joe Biden – even if he is the incumbent.

So let’s put Joe Biden in his proper vice presidential context, and begin with some facts about the office. Of the forty-seven vice presidents who have served in the U.S., only fourteen have gone on to be President. Out of those fourteen, only five of those VPs actually got elected president; the rest of them ascended to the presidency as a result of a President’s death or resignation, and then either refused to run again for their own term, or ran for their own term and lost.

This is to say that being Vice President of the United States is in some respects a “dead end job.” VP’s can certainly leverage their stature for great professional pursuits when they leave office (Vice Presidents Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney have all done well for themselves), but in terms of political pursuits, it’s usually the end of the road.

Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.