Constitution established the vice presidency as a critically important but virtually powerless role
Vice presidents have few formal duties or powers
But they have to be ready to take over at a moment's notice if something happens to the president
When Theodore Roosevelt received the vice presidential nomination from the Republican Party in 1900, Ohio Senator and Republican strategist Mark Hanna famously remarked, "Don't any of you realize that there's only one life between this madman and the presidency?" One wonders why a powerful senator or governor would want to accept a position that could leave them on the sidelines of political influence for four or eight long years. Of course, the vice president usually has the inside shot at winning his or her party's nomination when it becomes available. But that requires a great deal of patience—or perhaps a morbid sort of ambition.