Turns Out Many VP Nominees Have Met With Foreign Leaders

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

While Sarah Palin said in her first sit-down interview that many vice presidents had not met with foreign heads of state before they were elected, the likelihood of that being true in the last century appears slim to none.

Asked by ABC News if she had met with a foreign head of state, Palin said, "I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."

When it comes to vice presidential nominees in the 20th century, CBS News Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley said "That's just false."

Before he was nominated in 2000, Vice President Dick Cheney had met with foreign heads of state as Secretary of Defense. And before they were nominated, 2000 Democratic VP nominee Joe Lieberman, and Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dan Quayle met with them too, as had former President George H. W. Bush. Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Mondale too. But who did not?

"The only one I could think of would likely be [former Vice President] Spiro T. Agnew," said Jules Witcover, a veteran Washington political journalist who has written several books on vice presidents. He noted that Agnew was unlikely to have met formally with a foreign leader because he was governor of Maryland for two years before joining Nixon's ticket.

Witcover listed off the names of vice presidents going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, noting that Agnew was the only one he could think of that might have not met with a foreign leader.

Brinkley said it could only be true if you went way back in American politics, before revolutions in transportation allowed travel to be easier.

"There might have been some vice presidents who never did," said Brinkley, "but that's because we were isolated."

"History shows that presidential nominees often select vice presidents because of their foreign policy experience," said Brinkley, but notes that "it's not an iron clad rule."

"It's particularly so when Franklin Roosevelt picked Harry Truman and had no foreign policy experience but had been a soldier overseas. It later created a lot of confusion in the at the start of the Cold War years that he had no foreign policy experience, but he ended up doing pretty well."