Top 5 vice-presidential debate moments in US history

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Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are set to square off in their only scheduled debate this Wednesday.

If the contest plays out in any way like the one that took place between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, it could turn out to be one of the more memorable vice-presidential debates in recent memory.

VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, OFTEN AN AFTERTHOUGHT, TAKES ON OUTSIZED IMPORTANCE

Here is a look back at some classic moments from past vice-presidential debates.

Have we met?

Vice President Dick Cheney torched Democratic opponent John Edwards during their 2004 debate, when he brought up Edwards’ questionable record in the Senate. Cheney cited statistics regarding the Democrat’s absences from meetings of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, as well as from important votes, and referenced the “Sen. Gone” nickname bestowed upon him by local media.

Cheney concluded the attack by going so far as to claim he had never even met Edwards before, despite both being part of the Senate.

“Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of the Senate, the presiding officer. I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session,” Cheney said. “The first time I ever met you was when you walked on this stage tonight.”

PENCE, HARRIS, TO SIT FURTHER APART AT WEDNESDAY’S DEBATE

That claim was thoroughly debunked following the debate. The two sat next to each other at a prayer breakfast in 2001 where Cheney had thanked Edwards by name. Months later, they shook hands off-camera at a taping of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” then-host Tim Russert revealed after the debate. The two men also met in 2003 at the Senate swearing-in ceremony for Elizabeth Dole.

“The vice president said that the first time I met Sen. Edwards was tonight when we walked on the stage,” Edwards said at a campaign event following the debate. “I guess he forgot the time we sat next to each other for a couple hours about three years ago. I guess he forgot the time we met at the swearing-in of another senator. So, my wife Elizabeth reminded him on the stage.”

“Can I call you Joe?”

The 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was known at the time for her folksy charm when she ran alongside presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain. That came across the instant she appeared on screen for the debate against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

“Nice to meet you,” Palin said, shaking Biden’s hand. “Hey, can I call you Joe?”

Aides later revealed that Palin asked Biden to call him by his first name because during debate prep she kept accidentally saying “O’Biden.”

“Malarkey”

During the Democratic primary race leading to the 2020 election, Joe Biden went on what was famously known as the “No Malarkey” tour in Iowa. While the former vice president faced teasing for the unconventional language, it was not the first time he used the phrase in a campaign.

During the 2012 vice presidential debate, Republican challenger Paul Ryan criticized the Obama-Biden administration’s foreign policy, particularly claiming that positions regarding the Middle East made America seem weak.

“With all due respect,” Biden responded, “that’s a bunch of malarkey.”

“Who am I?”

Vice Admiral James Stockdale appeared woefully out of his element during the 1992 vice presidential debate, which was a three-party contest involving him, Republican incumbent Dan Quayle, and Democratic challenger Al Gore. Stockdale was running with independent candidate Ross Perot, who polled well enough for them to be included in the televised debates.

Stockdale was a Vietnam War hero and an academic, not a politician, which was made evident during that debate, but he was ready to admit it with the first line of his opening remarks.

“Who am I? Why am I here? Stockdale asked.

“You’re no Jack Kennedy”

Perhaps the most iconic moment from a vice presidential debate came in 1988’s battle between Democrat Lloyd Bentsen and Republican Dan Quayle. After Quayle, who was 41 at the time, downplayed his relative youth by saying he had the same amount of congressional experience President John F. Kennedy had before he took office in the White House, Bentsen fired back with a scathing retort.

“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” Bentsen said, to raucous applause.

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Of course, that moment ended up being inconsequential in the race, as Quayle and George H.W. Bush soundly defeated Bentsen and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis by a margin of 426 electoral votes to 111.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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