5 of the Most Unforgettable Campaign Moments by Vice Presidential Hopefuls

Being vice president is a thankless job, topped only by running for vice president. And with such recognizable and divisive characters as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton topping the tickets this year, little attention has been paid to the candidates fighting for the number-two spot in the executive branch.


But while historically, vice-presidential candidates have played a nominal role in electing the president, VP candidates certainly add their own unique charm to the political process. As Mike Pence and Tim Kaine gear up to battle in the only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle, we’ve nailed down the top five campaign moments from VP hopefuls.

1. Joe Biden: 'That’s a bunch of malarkey' (2012).

During the 2012 vice presidential debate, current Veep Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan duked it out over President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and specifically, the attack on the American consulate in Libya.

As Ryan rattled off obtuse arguments about the Obama administration projecting weakness, Biden became visibly energized.

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

The saying, which Biden attributes to his Irish heritage, is one of Biden’s favorites—he even used it in July to describe Donald Trump’s grasp on policy issues. But Biden’s malarkey remark during the 2012 debate was an instant classic. 

Following the debate, the social web analytics tool Topsy found that variations of “malarkey” were mentioned nearly 30,000 times on Twitter in one minute. As the Huffington Post notes, Obama’s reelection campaign even bought advertisements on Twitter for the hashtag “#malarkey.”

2. Sarah Palin, pitbull in lipstick (2008).

For all of Sarah Palin’s gaffes during her run 2008 run as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, her one-liner during the 2008 GOP convention elevated Palin from Alaska governor to the voice of Tea Party hockey moms everywhere.

“I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA,” Palin began as the crowd cheered. “I love those hockey moms, you know they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick.”

Palin ad-libbed the pitbull line, which became a staple for the veep candidate during stump speeches during the remainder of her ill-fated campaign. The line even found its way into Tina Fey’s impersonation of Palin on "Saturday Night Live."

3. Dick Cheney claims he doesn’t know John Edwards (2004).

With a biting one-liner, incumbent VP candidate Dick Cheney knocked opponent John Edward's lack of experience as a first-term senator.

"The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight,” Cheney said.

That of course was not true; video evidence surfaced shortly after the debate proving the pair had, in fact, met on several occasions.

4. Dan Quayle misspells potato (1992).

In 1992, Dan Quayle was embroiled in a tough reelection campaign as George H.W. Bush’s number two. The pair would eventually lose to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, but not before Quayle showed his hand as the least qualified man to give a 12-year-old spelling advice.

“And one little bit on the end,” Quayle begins, goading the student to add an “e” as the last letter of “potato.” Quayle tried to implement damage control, insisting the cue cards provided by the school contained the incorrect spelling; he was largely derided by the media for the gaffe.

5. Lloyd Bentsen: 'Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy' (1988).

No list of VP moments is complete without Lloyd Bentsen’s burn-heard-round-the-world during the 1988 vice-presidential debate.

Responding to Dan Quayle’s claim that he had “as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did,” Bentsen hit his opponent with one of the most stinging put-downs in VP history:

“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”

Quayle’s reaction to Bentsen’s attack was used by Democrats in advertisements throughout the remainder of the campaign. While Quayle and George H. W. Bush went on to defeat Bentsen and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, the saying lives on in political infamy. Biden even invoked the line during his debate with Ryan, sarcastically remarking, "So now you're Jack Kennedy?"

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