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Breaking News

Dick Cheney Joins Bush on GOP Ticket

Aired July 25, 2000 - 8:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It is now official: Texas Governor George W. Bush has named his choice of a running mate. We're told that Bush has already had a -- has gone ahead and made the offer.

We go ahead now and go back to our Jonathan Karl who's standing by at the governor's mansion in Austis (ph) -- in Austin, Texas, rather, on veep vigil.

John, what else are you hearing this morning, and what's going to come later today?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, what's interesting here is the search for a running mate ended exactly where it started, with Dick Cheney the person in charge of that search. The first thing that we understand that will be happening, is probably happening right now, is that Governor Bush will be calling those also-rans, the ones who had been vetted by none other than Dick Cheney, the ones that have been working with Dick Cheney on an extensive background check -- those other possibilities, those who have been on George W. Bush's short list, those who did not get the call to be the vice presidential candidate. Bush to be making those calls, to be informing staff formally that Dick Cheney is his choice.

And then we'll get an announcement here in Austin -- a formal announcement. As we've mentioned, they're still treating this like a tightly guarded secret. The campaign has not even told us the location of that announcement let alone the time, but we expect it will be today, sometime within the next few hours.

HARRIS: And, Jon, what's this we're hearing that they may actually be hitting the road later on? What's that all about?

KARL: Well, they've been saying all along that there was a great possibility that they would go on the road, go to make a visit to the vice presidential nominee's home state. Nothing set in stone yet, but the plan, the tentative plan, is they would go to the home state of the nominee, Dick Cheney, from Wyoming. That means a trip to Wyoming, probably a day trip tomorrow. They would come back to Austin for a day. And then of course, on Friday, Bush begins to work his way to the Republican convention in Philadelphia. It's a five-state swing, and he'd actually get to Philadelphia by next Wednesday.

But that's what we've got here: possibly a trip tomorrow to Wyoming. HARRIS: But first you got to find the location of that announcement.

KARL: Yes, we sure do.

HARRIS: Jonathan Karl in Austin, Texas this morning, thanks much -- Carol.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in the meantime, Charles Zewe has been standing by outside or near Dick Cheney's house to see what's going on there.

So I understand, Charles, that he got the call this morning. Do you see any activity out there? CHARLES ZEWE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not other than Lynne Cheney, Dick Cheney's wife, going off for coffee earlier this morning. She came back to the House, went back inside, presumably Mr. and Mrs. Cheney having their coffee this morning. No movement outside the house other than for a lot of news media out here, national and local media, everybody talking about where the presidential nominee-apparent and the vice presidential nominee-apparent now will go tomorrow. This is, after all, has been Dick Cheney's home state for the last five years as chairman of the Halliburton Corporation, despite the fact he changed his voter registration to Wyoming last week. This is the place he's lived for the last five years, presiding over that big oil field services company.

Yesterday morning at about this time, he came out to get his own paper. We expect perhaps he'll be doing that shortly -- Lin -- Carol.

LIN: Well, Charles, what sort of experience does Dick Cheney bring to the vice presidency having been the CEO of Halliburton?

ZEWE: Well, before he ever want to work for Halliburton in 1995, he had two, three decades of public service experience, not only as the Defense Secretary but as chief of staff for Gerald Ford, as a six- term congressman, Wyoming's only congressman, elected in the late '60s. He was, of course, the defense secretary during the Persian Gulf War. He is someone who brings a wealth of experience.

As chairman of Halliburton, he presides over one of the world's biggest oil field services company, a company that has about 100,000 workers worldwide. And interestingly enough, he's done a good job, according to financial analysts for Halliburton. When he took over, the company's stock was at about $20 a share. Yesterday, it closed at $41 and change -- double. They have also had a stock split during Mr. Cheney's tenure. So he hasn't done too badly by Halliburton. He's expected to bring that business experience and his wealth of government experience into play in the campaign -- Carol.

LIN: And certainly many of his connections. Thank you very much, Charles Zewe.

HARRIS: Let's go now back to our Jonathan Karl who's in Austin, Texas outside the governor's mansion there. Jon, we've been hearing all this talk about Dick Cheney for the last few days and we've been hearing bits and pieces about how the Democrats may actually sort of try to find a target there somewhere in his resume or somewhere in the selection of this man. What are you hearing there about how the Bush campaign is actually going to address that?

KARL: Well, Leon, before I answer that question, we have a little bit more news. We have learned that the announcement will happen at 2:00 local time, 3:00 Eastern time here in Austin at the University of Texas. There will be a rally, the first rally featuring the Bush-Cheney ticket.

Now as far as your question, how will the Bush campaign be responding to some of these attacks that they know will be coming from the Gore camp on Cheney's background? they believe simply that Cheney is the most eminently qualified person you could find to be vice president. They believe that as far as his ties to the Bush administration, he was tied to George W. Bush's father's administration at the high point of that administration, the Persian Gulf War. So they feel very comfortable with that. And they really believe that Gore's attacks will fall flat because they say that Cheney is simply a very well-regarded people -- very well-regarded individual not only among Republicans, but that he was well-regarded while he was in the House of Representatives by Democrats as well.

HARRIS: Well, sorry, Jon. Didn't mean to step on you there. I didn't realize that you would be that quick in getting the news. Just a moment ago you said it might take you a while to find out where the announcements are going to be made. You're better than I thought you were.

KARL: Yes, I'll tell you, you know, this stuff's happening very quickly. And one further detail: It is at the Erwin Center of the University of Texas-Austin. So now you know everything, Leon, as far as this announcement.

HARRIS: Well, not quite yet. We're going to try to get there, though. Well, let me ask you...

KARL: The trucks have to get there. You know what's interesting is you've got all this, you know, non-stop coverage. Everybody's been waiting to cover this story so you have satellite trucks all in front of the governor's mansion not knowing where to go because they've kept the location of this announcement a secret until -- well, until just now.

HARRIS: Now, they kept secret but didn't keep the selection secret.

KARL: Yes.

HARRIS: Now, are you seeing any movement at all with the government -- governor, rather, or his people there at all? And do you expect them to be leaving fairly soon now that this announcement and the location has been announced? KARL: Well, no movement from right behind me in the governor's mansion yet, but we do know that the announcement will be, you know, again, at 2:00 local time. And things will be happening very quickly. And they're also busily planning that trip I told you about. Still not set in stone, but what they want to do is go to Wyoming tomorrow with Cheney.

HARRIS: Well, let me ask you something else about the selection process. Now that he has made this selection, is there any sense that there has been some grumbling that may come back to haunt the governor on this among the men who were selected or who were mentioned first as primary choices and who seemingly got big footage here by the man who was in charge of the selection process?

KARL: Well, you know, publicly what's happening is that all these people that were on George W. Bush's short list are coming out and saying that they are happy with Dick Cheney, they think he's the perfect choice, they think that he was, you know, of course, the guy to go with. But, you know, privately we have heard from two of those who had been on George W. Bush's short list who were unhappy with this process. One wondered if it had all been a waste of time, complained that it took hours and hours, tens of hours to compile all this background information that they had to get to Cheney himself as part of this vetting process.

So there is some grumbling, there are some hurt feelings, as you always have with a process like this. But publicly what you're going to see is a very united Republican Party around the Bush-Cheney ticket.

HARRIS: One last question, Jon, and again about sort of the process involved here behind the scenes. Are you hearing anything at all about a tactic that the governor is going to take to communicate the message that this was his choice and had nothing at all to do with his father or his father's influence?

KARL: Well, absolutely. What you're going to see happen here today is you're not only going to see the formal announcement, but Bush officials will be talking about how he got to make this choice, the process. And what they want to make very clear is that it was not fixed from the start, that, in fact, Dick Cheney, when he took the job as the person who would vet the potential candidates, as the person in charge of the search, that he sought assurances that the search would not end with Cheney himself. And you're going to hear about how this was George W. Bush's decision and George W. Bush's decision alone.

Now, of course, we're also hearing -- and, in fact, Bush has acknowledged himself -- that he did consult his father on this, he did consult the former president and that the former president was very interested in this process. But the Bush campaign will make every effort to portray this as George W. Bush's decision in his decision alone.

HARRIS: And of course it remains to be seen whether all this matters outside of Washington, Austin or Dallas, of course.

Jonathan Karl, thanks much for your reporting this morning from Austin. Nice job. Keep it up -- Carol.

LIN: That's right, and also whether it matters to the Gore campaign now that Governor Bush has made his choice and the Republican ticket is shaping up.

Let's go to Chris Black to see what the reaction is from the Gore campaign -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, the initial reaction of senior aides to Vice President Al Gore is that the selection of Dick Cheney really doesn't make much of a difference for Al Gore. They don't think that Cheney brings anything dramatic or -- to the Republican ticket that would warrant a particular response on Al Gore's part.

The vice president has the advantage of going second. His nominating convention doesn't take place until middle of August. So he has time to assess the impact of the selection of Dick Cheney and factor it into his own decision-making process. But as I said, the aides to the vice president don't think it will make a huge difference.

This morning, the vice president will be meeting with Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state who has been heading up his selection process. They have been talking on the phone a lot, according to vice president, they have been meeting regularly.

The vice president has been basically keeping his counsel to himself and Warren Christopher throughout this process because he has -- he brings a unique perspective to this process, Carol, having been considered twice himself as a vice presidential running mate. Once he got it and once he didn't. He didn't get it in 1988 when Michael Dukakis was considering a number of senators and settled on Lloyd Bentsen of Texas instead of Al Gore. But in 1992, of course, he did get it.

So he's very sensitive to what the candidates themselves have to go through: the tremendous vetting process of going through background checks and financial records and that sort of thing. So he's trying to keep it extremely private and we'll just sort of wait and see. We'll probably -- he's going on vacation on Thursday with his family down in North Carolina and he's expected to do a lot of thinking while he's there -- Carol.

LIN: Well, Chris, from your perspective -- and I know that the search, as you've been pointing out, is very private -- but from your perspective, does this -- if the Democrats don't see this GOP ticket as a real barn-burner, does it take less -- does it take more pressure off of them to come up with a striking candidate for themselves?

BLACK: I think there's no question. Clearly, Gore does not have to match the Republican ticket in the sense that he doesn't have to look for someone who has more experience than he does in, say, military or international affairs, which apparently Governor Bush did feel he needed to reach out to someone to do that, because the vice president himself has extensive experience in both those areas. What I am hearing more from the vice president now -- and of course he's only talking in very vague terms, but of course we study him very closely to try to get some sense of where he's coming from -- is that he would very much like to have a partner in the same way that he has been a partner to Bill Clinton. The vice president has, because of the role he's played in the Clinton-Gore administration -- he's expanded the expectation for what a vice president can and should do. So he's now saying that he wants a partner, he wants somebody that he can delegate responsibility to, who can hit the ground running, who can help him share the burden.

He spoke very eloquently last week in Iowa about the burdens of the office of the presidency and how he had felt that he had been in the position to help Bill Clinton. And he said to the crowd, he said, you know how presidents age in office? And everybody nodded, you know. And he's thinking now that it would be nice if he could find someone who could help him as he's helped Bill Clinton.

LIN: So if he's looking for a working partner, you know, both parties have always talked about Colin Powell as a possibility, though Colin Powell has said he's not interested in the job. Is there any discussion among the Democrats of looking at Powell?

BLACK: Well, I think everybody takes the general at his word. He's made it very clear that elective office is not for him. I think anyone would love to have him, but also General Powell has made it pretty clear he's a Republican, too, so he's speaking at the Republican National Convention. So I don't think that's in the cards at this time.

LIN: All right, well, there were always some hints the other day that, actually, another Republican, secretary -- Defense Secretary Cohen might make an interesting partner for Al Gore.

BLACK: That name did come up. I'm inclined to think it's unlikely. But, you know, you never know. It's really hard to say. There are a lot of Democrats that I think the vice president would probably go to before even though Bill Cohen has worked very well in this administration. There's something partisan about the vice presidency, too, about having -- wanting to have someone who -- because you're setting up the vice president to run himself, perhaps, someday. And I don't think that would be too popular with some Democrats.

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Chris Black, with reaction from the Gore campaign to Dick Cheney being named as George W. Bush's running mate for this Republican ticket.

HARRIS: It's official now.

Well, as a congressman from Wyoming, Dick Cheney was more conservative than many of his fellow Republicans.

LIN: CNN's Pat Neal has a report on the Cheney voting record.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY (R), WYOMING: The question before the House today is...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During his 11 years in Congress, Dick Cheney may have appealed to moderates and worked with liberals, but his record was strictly conservative.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: No question Dick Cheney is a bona fide conservative. He bills himself as such, but not an ideologue.

NEAL: Cheney believes the government's role in social issues should be limited. He opposed federal funding for abortions, with no exceptions in the case of rape or incest. He voted against the equal rights amendment for women, along with 146 other members of Congress in 1983. On education, he consistently opposed funding Headstart and voted against creating the Department of Education.

Cheney was raised in Wyoming and opposes, as many Westerners do, gun control limits. He was one of just 21 members of Congress in December of 1985 to vote against a ban on armor-piercing bullets called "cop-killer" bullets.

Three years later, he was one of only four members of the House voting against a ban on plastic guns that could slip through airport security machines undetected. The NRA did not oppose this ban.

Also in 1988, Cheney voted to scrap a proposed national seven-day waiting period on handgun purchases.

BOB MICHEL, FORMER HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Wyoming is a very conservative state. He was simply voting the convictions of the people back home.

NEAL: Cheney voted as a fiscal conservative, too, supporting legislation to balance the national budget.

Dick Cheney consistently voted to raise military spending. He also supported aid to the Nicaraguan rebels even after a moratorium on funding was passed.

(on camera): During his 11 years in Congress, Cheney was known for having a moderate personal style and getting along with Republicans and Democrats. As for voting, Cheney consistently received very high marks from conservative groups ranking his record.

Pat Neal, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: All right, it's all over but the shouting, if you will. We are just now waiting for the official announcement to come, and we will have live coverage of that coming up.

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