Most Surprising VP Selections

PHOTO: Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hold a campaign rally at the Giant Center, Oct. 28, 2008 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
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Sarah Palin (John McCain, 2008)

The Alaskan governor tapped to run with John McCain in 2008 was widely regarded as a surprising (and, in certain circles, poor) choice for VP. The self-described hockey mom had only served one term as governor of Alaska at the time of her selection. The McCain-Palin campaign was dotted with missteps and setbacks. Highlights included Palin's infamous comment that foreign affairs qualification is that Russia is visible from an island in Alaska. Palin has stayed in the public eye since 2008. She resigned early from the governorship in Alaska, but has been a force in Republican politics and flirted with the idea of running for president in 2012.

This post originally misquoted Palin. She did not say Russia was visible from her house, but that it was visible from an island in Alaska. ABC regrets the error.

PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle reacts as he and President George Bush walk into the White House in Washington, DC after a welcome home rally 14 October, 1992.
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Dan Quayle (George H.W. Bush, 1988)

Quayle ran with George H.W. Bush and was considered a dark-horse candidate from the start. The wildly controversial selection drew attention away from Bush and the messages of the campaign starting from the moment of its announcement. Quayle fumbled in his attempts to dismiss what the media dubbed "The Three Quayle Problems" -- his military record, a dubious golfing trip he had taken with a female staffer and his lack of experience -- and did little to help Bush secure his win. Quayle briefly made his own run for president in 1999, but it was short-lived. He now has a son in Congress.

PHOTO: Then- U.S. Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, left, and then-Sen. George S. McGovern, the presidential candidate, stand before the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in the final session in Miami Beach, Fla., in this July 13, 1972 file photo.
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Tom Eagleton (George McGovern, 1972)

Eagleton was only selected as the Democratic VP candidate after George McGovern's other choices (about eight of them) had declined the job. Eagleton's strong legislative record was what boosted him onto the ticket. The Democrat's history of mental illness came to light after some journalists dug around in July 1972. Despite Eagleton's best efforts to prove his capabilities and McGovern's continued backing of his selection, Eagleton stepped down on July 31. Sargent Shriver replaced him on the ticket.

PHOTO: William Rufus King
Wikimedia Commons
William Rufus King (Franklin Pierce, 1853)

King and Franklin Pierce were close friends, which is generally accepted as the rationale for Pierce's selection of the sickly King as VP in 1853. Despite King's long and impressive record in both state and national government, by the time Pierce mounted his presidential campaign, King was essentially living in Cuba in an attempt to recuperate from a bout of tuberculosis. The Democrat took his oath on Cuban soil and spent most of his time in office there in a fruitless attempt at recovery. He eventually died from the illness.

PHOTO: US Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore (L) and his running mate US Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, visit Gore's hometown of Carthage, Tennessee 09 August, 2000 for a town hall reunion.
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Joe Lieberman (Al Gore, 2000)

Lieberman was the first openly Jewish politician on any presidential ticket. Considered a dubious choice after his selection didn't cause a bump in polling numbers, Lieberman failed to vindicate himself on the campaign trail. Despite initial excitement surrounding the "Jewish factor" that Joe's selection brought to the table, Lieberman proved himself more of a liability than an asset, especially after disappointing his own supporters with a lackluster performance in his vice presidential debate against opponent Dick Cheney. After his own run for president in 2004, Lieberman was defeated in a Democratic primary for his Senate seat in 2006. But he won re-election as an independent. He has announced he'll retire in 2013.

PHOTO: Henry Agard Wallace the American agriculturalist and statesman.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Henry A. Wallace (FDR, 1940)

While Wallace, a popular secretary of agriculture, originally seemed a solid vice presidential candidate, he turned out to be a hot-headed, quick-to-argue VP once in office. His tendencies toward mystical religions also rubbed both colleagues and voters the wrong way. When FDR ran for re-election in 1944, Wallace was taken off the ticket in favor of Harry Truman.

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