Thinking Twice About the No. 2

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MEMO to voters: Of the 46 vice presidents of the United States, 14 — nearly one out of three — have become president. Nine got the job without being elected.

One was Theodore Roosevelt. Thrust into the job after William McKinley was assassinated, he became one of America’s presidential greats. Another was Andrew Johnson, whose tenure went from bad (he was red-faced, incoherent and probably drunk when he took the vice presidential oath) to worse (after succeeding Abraham Lincoln, he was impeached).

Despite those compelling figures, Americans typically pay scant attention to the No. 2, whether when voting for a president or, for that matter, a governor.

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