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Dick Cheney Accepts V.P. Job on George W. Bush Ticket

Aired July 25, 2000 - 8:18 a.m. ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: As we cover election 2000 now and the official announcement soon to come of the selection of the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, we go back now to CNN's Jonathan Karl standing by in Austin, Texas outside the governor's mansion there with the wrap-up of what has been happening so far this morning -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, just too quickly recap, George W. Bush's search for a running mate has ended right where it started with the guy who was in charge of that search, Dick Cheney. The call went out this morning from Bush to Cheney, Cheney accepted. It will now be a Bush-Cheney ticket. That formal announcement will be made at 2:00 local time here, 3:00 Eastern time with a rally, the first rally of the Bush-Cheney ticket, at the University of Texas-Austin.

And that's where it stands right now.

HARRIS: Any other word now about what time that may come? I know you've -- we've given you at least 10 seconds to try to find that out. As quick as you are, we figured you'd know by now.

KARL: Yes, 3:00 Eastern time will be that rally -- 3:00 Eastern time at the University of Texas-Austin campus.

HARRIS: OK, and from that point on, you say that the two men will then go ahead and take their tour of the various different states and whatnot?

KARL: Yes. Now, again, you can imagine, given that the location of this announcement right here in Austin was such a secret, that they haven't firmly, you know, formally confirmed where they'll be going tomorrow, but we're told that they are planning to go to Dick Cheney's home state. His home state as of last Friday was Wyoming where he just changed his voter registration back to the state that he represented in Congress for 12 years. So it looks like we can expect a trip to Wyoming tomorrow.

HARRIS: Have the campaign folks there told you at all about what they expect in terms of a bounce on this news being made today at this time, this close in proximity to the convention?

KARL: I'm sorry, Leon, there was a lot of bus noise. Could you please... HARRIS: I can see you're out there in the middle of all that traffic. Let me try it again. Have the campaign folks there that you've been speaking with given you any sort of idea of the kind of bounce they expect to get from this news being made at this particular time in proximity to the convention coming up?

KARL: Well, they had debated for some time when to make this announcement. As you know, traditionally, especially on the Republic side, what you have is the announcement of a vice presidential choice coming at the convention. The risk they knew of announcing this a week before is they would take whatever drama there was out of the convention. Usually that's the one piece of real news that comes out of a convention is the choice of a running mate.

But what they figured is that by doing it ahead of time, they could extend the convention. The convention is actually only four days, but the Bush campaign really sees the convention as an event that spreads out over about 14 days. You have the lead-up into the convention. Now it will be the lead-up with this announcement starting today. This is formally, in the Bush campaign's mind, the start of the lead-up to the convention, going into the convention and then coming out of the convention.

So they believe what this does is extends what a presidential candidate is always looking for, which is a bounce coming out of his convention. And the Bush campaign knows they really need a bounce, because although they have been ahead in most national polls, they've been ahead by a very narrow margin. And they believe that when Al Gore gets to have his convention -- of course, the Democratic convention coming a week after the Republicans' -- that Gore will get a very big bounce. So they really want to get the most that they can out of this announcement and out of the convention.

HARRIS: All right, John Karl reporting live from the site there where the traffic, literally and figuratively, is picking up quite a bit in Austin, Texas this morning. Thanks, John, appreciate it -- Carol.

LIN: Well, let's see what the traffic is looking like outside of Dick Cheney's house. He is in Dallas getting ready, presumably, to head over to Austin.

And we head over to CNN's Charles Zewe who's been standing by there all morning.

Charles, I understand you haven't seen Dick Cheney yet, but you did see his wife. Did she say anything this morning?

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, she got into the car, Carol, drove off, came back a little while later with some coffee. She was obviously the designated coffee-run person his morning. She went back inside the house saying nothing to reporters. The house is still very quiet, at least from the outside, a lot of people, a lot of joggers, bicyclers, people, neighbors of the Cheney's in the Highland Park area of Dallas driving past, walking past, looking at this big contingent of media that's on hand here, but no signs of any kind of stirring from inside the house yet, Carol.

LIN: Well, Charles, by all signs, it seems that Dick Cheney has made a very comfortable life for himself in Dallas working as the CEO of Halliburton Corporation, an oil service company. What do you think that -- what do you was most convincing to him to get back into politics?

ZEWE: I think people who know Dick Cheney say he's always loved public service and loved politics. He's had a salary of about -- just under $2 million, some years a little bit more than $2 million, and people will wonder, well, why in the world would you walk away from that? Well, people who are into politics, into government service will tell you that there are a lot of motivations. The chief one is public service. And of course there's ego involved.

You talk to people who have worked with Cheney since he became chief executive officer of the Halliburton Corporation and he displayed the same attributes there as he did when he was defense secretary, chief of staff for Gerald Ford, a congressman from Wyoming, and that is steady and dependable. He's somebody who moves very comfortably in the power circles of both the oil industry and politics, and he's been able to blend both of those jobs as CEO of Halliburton and as the head of George Bush's vice presidential search committee, which has landed on himself now.

So he's a man who's very comfortable. He's a man who, unlike a lot of CEOs who go to work in pinstriped suits and button-down shirts and very expensive shoes, Dick Cheney will just as soon show up to work in loafers, in a tweed jacket. He's a man who's very comfortable with himself and his surroundings. And that's the way, from what we have gathered talking to people who have worked with him over the years, that he is most comfortable working. That's the kind of atmosphere that he brings: dependable, sturdy and, some people say, dull. But that, perhaps, is what George Bush was looking for in a running mate, someone who would not overshadow him but who was steady and dependable and could be counted on for his advice and service.

LIN: And what are those folks who you have been talking to tell you about the relationship between Dick Cheney and George W. Bush?

ZEWE: Well, it's a relationship, Carol, that has been one that has bloomed over the last few months, especially since Mr. Cheney was named head of the vice presidential search committee. Cheney was, of course, a favorite of President Bush, serving as secretary of defense during the Gulf War. So he is someone who is long-known to the Bush family, long-known to George W. Bush, and long-admired for his service. So the personal relationship, from what we understand, bloomed when, actually, Cheney went to work for W, as he's known here in Texas, and they began the process of culling through the various people who might be considered to be vice presidential material. And at some point, W, based on his friendship, is thought to have said, well, you know, how about you?

LIN: And certainly he said, why not?

All right, thank you very much, Charles Zewe in Dallas -- Leon. HARRIS: All right, let's check some more angles on this particular announcement coming today.

Joining us now on the telephone is political analyst Stu Rothenberg.

Well, Stu, now that the announcement has finally been made, now what?

STU ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, now the ticket sells itself and the Republicans sell the ticket and we move on to the convention, and then Democrats get their shot.

I'm not sure there's going to be a huge bounce from the selection, Leon, I don't think this is the kind of announcement where the public is going to start to cheer one way or the other. I think more people will say, well, who is this guy? Let me find out about Dick Cheney.

HARRIS: Is it not the case, like we said earlier this morning, where everybody inside of Washington may love this choice and think it makes a lot of sense but folks outside here may not either know or care?

ROTHENBERG: Oh, I think you're absolutely right. You know, this -- at one level, this is a good choice in that Cheney is a solid citizen, a veteran Washington insider, he knows policy, he's well- regarded. On the other hand, he doesn't bring a lot electorally. This is not John McCain or Tom Ridge in terms of helping George W. Bush getting elected. Once he's elected, if he's elected, then Dick Cheney is a good V.P. The question is whether Cheney at all helps Bush get there. I don't necessarily think that's the case.

HARRIS: Let me ask you something along those same lines. This is a line I read in an editorial this morning about the message that this particular choice sends. That message is disturbing and it's that Governor Bush apparently feels he owes the conservative wing of the Republican Party almost nothing. How do you see that?

ROTHENBERG: Well, that's not the message that I would draw if I was drawing an ideological conclusion about this. I think, actually, Cheney is extremely acceptable to conservatives. I know yesterday before the announcement of the pick but when Cheney's name was circulating, I got a fax from National Right to Life indicating that Cheney had a 100 percent rating. And conservatives seemed very happy with Cheney.

Actually, I think Cheney's selection, because his record was so conservative, allows Bush to move to the center rather than if Bush had picked Tom Ridge, a moderate, which would have forced Bush to the right. So I don't -- I think that Cheney is -- ought to be satisfactory to all elements of the Republican Party. That's one of the reasons Cheney is a good pick, is that he is broadly acceptable. He's personally conservative, but his style is very moderate.

HARRIS: Stu Rothenberg, thanks much for your insight. Appreciate it -- Carol.

LIN: Well, with Dick Cheney's name being floated for at least the last 48 hours as a possible V.P. running mate with George W. Bush, we've got some latest Gallup Poll figures which indicates that registered voters think very well of the man. Dick Cheney is well- known and well-liked.

And taking a look at public opinion there, you can see that he got a 51 percent favorable rating versus an 11 percent unfavorable rating, with 38 percent with no opinion, perhaps reflecting that people are learning more about the man as we are now.

Favorable ratings compare, however, against Colin Powell, 81 percent, John McCain, 57 percent, with Dick Cheney coming in behind the two of them at 51 percent.

Now, in terms of Cheney's effect on your vote out there, well, people are saying they're more likely to vote for Bush with Cheney on the ballot, with 14 percent saying so; less likely for Bush, 10 percent; and no effect, 72 percent. But very early in the race. It's still not been officially announced, which we expect that announcement this afternoon.



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