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Inside Politics

George W. Bush Expected to Name Dick Cheney as Running Mate; Sierra Club Endorses Al Gore

Aired July 24, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Amid the wait for a Bush VP announcement, a Colin Powell diversion and a hard look at Dick Cheney's pros and cons.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Do like I say, not like I do, isn't that what our parents always told us? If he picks Dick Cheney to be his running mate, George W. Bush will be following that advice.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Schneider on an option that you might call the anti-Quayle.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to say how proud I am to be running with the Sierra Club. Thank you for your endorsement and for your support.


SHAW: Al Gore: running mates and a long-awaited endorsement.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

It will not be official until George W. Bush makes it so, but GOP sources tell CNN that former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is all but certain to be named Bush's running mate tomorrow.

Our senior correspondents Candy Crowley and John King are covering this story.

Let's go first now to John, who dug up this new information -- John. JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, several leading Republican sources tell us that, as you mentioned, Dick Cheney, the former defense secretary, a former member of the House of Representatives. a man well regarded by President Bush as well as Governor Bush will be named tomorrow as the governor's running mate.

Now one of these sources says Cheney has told a close associate in the past day that he will be Bush's choice, barring a last-second conversion. Other sources, including two very close to the deliberations, tell us we should describe Cheney as, quote, the "likely" choice and the "leading candidate." But they do caution that Governor Bush has yet to extend a formal offer.

We're told by these sources, however, that offer could come later this evening and that the governor has time on his schedule blocked out tomorrow morning in Austin so that he can call others who had been considered and advise them they had not been chosen and perhaps advise them of his pick as well.

So far, reaction throughout the Republican Party to news that Cheney appears to be the pick has been generally favorable. No known objections yet, although we spoke to two of those under consideration today and there was a bit of private grumbling. They were saying that if Bush had his eyes on Cheney all along -- Cheney, of course, was heading the vice presidential selection process -- they say went through 50, 60, 70 hours of paperwork and the like and that perhaps they were wasting their time.

But again, Bush -- sources close to the governor say he came to this late. And when asked if Cheney would be in Austin tomorrow, perhaps only in his capacity as the chairman of the search committee, a very close associate said, quote, his impression is "he will not be there as a third party" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John, we're going to ask you to stand by while we turn to Candy Crowley. She's in Austin, Texas, where Governor Bush is finalizing all his plans.

Candy, hello.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy. while top party activists and top party officials believe that George Bush has settled on former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the governor is not ready to name names.


(voice-over): Aides say the decision isn't final until Bush makes a phone call to his choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until Governor Bush has made a call to ask someone to be a vice presidential nominee, it is premature to speculate.

CROWLEY: That call is expected to go out this evening.

Cheney, Bush's point man on the selection process, is home in Dallas but expected in Austin Tuesday.

RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I really don't have anything I can give you.

QUESTION: You haven't spoke at all...

QUESTION: Can you tell us any -- if there's any...

CHENEY: It's only 7:30. I just got up.

CROWLEY: Cheney's name, which has surfaced from time to time, catapulted back to the headlines last week, when he first switched his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming to avoid a possible constitutional problem and then got a clean bill of health from his doctor, apparently to ward off questions about three minor heart attacks Cheney had more than a decade ago.

A favored choice by many Republican officials contacted, Cheney is a conservative who is well liked by party moderates. He would leave Bush's considerable support with his base intact. Cheney brings no geographic advantage to the ticket, but he does have a lengthy resume of federal and foreign policy experience that Bush lacks.

Monday, the fever pitch in the public arena was so high it briefly produced the Republican's favorite hallucination: a George Bush-Colin Powell ticket. But a CBS report that the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff might be back in the mix was quickly shot down in a written statement from Powell there was no truth to it. The focus returned to Cheney.

Many other possible choices have faded into the white noise, but those honorable mentions were on board and locked in behind Cheney.

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: I mean, I'm a Dick Cheney guy. If he were to say it's Colin Powell, I've always been a Colin Powell guy. I felt that Colin should consider this slot a long time ago. But whoever he chooses I'm for, because I'm for Bush.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Certainly Secretary Cheney is an outstanding leader with a tremendous record. He was secretary of defense during the Gulf War, a very difficult and tense time for America. And he was a strong leader, a calm leader under enormous pressures.


CROWLEY: Those closest to the governor insist that nothing is final, again, until that call is made. But at this point, if the name that is finally uttered in public is anything other than Dick Cheney, it will be a monumental surprise -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, John King is now joining us again.

John we're hearing what all the positives are with regard to a Cheney choice. What are Democrats going to say about him? Where -- what criticism can be made of this man? KING: Democrats, much like the Gore campaign, are poring over his House record. They're sure to find some votes that they criticize. Overall reaction among Democrats, including top Gore aides, is that this is a good solid pick, that this is a man that certainly has the credentials to be president.

They will paint him as a conservative. One likely line of attack: He works right now for an energy company, Halliburton in Texas. He would have to leave that post, of course, if he is the governor's running mate. Governor Bush used to be in the oil business. There's all this controversy over high energy prices. Democrats say perhaps they will paint the governor and Mr. Cheney as in the pocket of the oil industry against the working man. But even as a senior Democrat made that argument to me today in a conversation, he said that shows you how desperate we are. Dick Cheney is a solid citizen.

WOODRUFF: All right, John. In just a moment we're going to be taking a look at Dick Cheney's record in the House.

Candy, indeed, if it is Dick Cheney -- and we have to keep saying we don't know, as you point out, until that phone call is made -- how is it that Bush would have settled on this man after looking at so many others who were governors, senators, sitting in office?

CROWLEY: Well, I think when you look at the choices of governors, you have to remember that one of the weaknesses that Democrats have been hitting at is the George Bush is not ready for prime time, that he doesn't have federal experience. Generally, when governors do lead the party ticket, they will look for someone with federal experience. That certainly is Dick Cheney. The other thing is that Dick Cheney was the secretary of defense during the Gulf War under the father George Bush. He has foreign policy expertise.

So while this brings absolutely no sort of geographical plus to the ticket, Bush aides sort of dismissed geography early on. What this does bring is sort of a resume balance to the ticket. While George Bush can be the outsider and the governor who's made changes in Texas and the new kind of Republican, he can bring in a Dick Cheney who has both the foreign policy credentials and the federal credentials that can balance out those resumes.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley joining us from Austin, John King at the White House. Thank you, both -- Bernie.

SHAW: As a former member of Congress, Dick Cheney has a paper trail, a voting record that Democrats probably will try to use against him, as we heard John King allude to.

CNN's Pat Neal looks at where Representative Cheney stood on some key issues.


CHENEY: The question before the House today is... 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 Head Start 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.

On the environment, Cheney opposed refunding the Clean Water Act.

He voted to postpone sanctions slapped on air polluters that failed to meet pollution standards.

And he voted against legislation to require oil, chemical and other industries from making public records of emissions known to cause cancer, birth defects and other chronic diseases.

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 his voting, Cheney consistently received very high marks from conservative groups ranking his record.

Pat Neal, CNN, Capitol Hill. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Now another aspect of Cheney's past that will be examined closely if he's chosen: his three heart attacks.

CNN's Rhonda Rowland reports on Cheney's medical history and whether it could be a problem on the trail or in the White House.


RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mr. Cheney's health problems in the past should not interfere with a strenuous political campaign. That's the advice to George W. Bush from a prominent cardiovascular surgeon. Upon the request of President George Bush, and presumed approval of Governor Bush, Dr. Denton Cooley of the Texas Heart Institute consulted with Cheney's personal physician. A recent checkup showed normal heart function. And Cheney adheres to a vigorous exercise program at home.

Dick Cheney suffered his first heart attack in 1978, when he was 37 years old. He had two subsequent heart attacks, one in 1984 and 1988. Cheney underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery following his third heart attack.

DR. SUSAN K. BENNETT, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: Bypass surgery is one way that we re-vascularize the heart -- in other words, bring new, fresh blood to the heart. Bypass surgery is extremely successful. It is a very common operation for heart patients.

ROWLAND: However, bypasses are not always a permanent fix. They last, on average, 10-15 years. That means half the bypasses fail before that time and half the patients can go longer without problem. Cheney's bypass operation was 12 years ago. If the bypass fails, doctors can prescribe medications, prop the clogged artery open with metal device called a stint, or they can redo the bypass procedure if the patient is in good health.

The hearts' condition may be he best predictor of future prognosis. The more severe a heart attack, the greater the scarring. Doctors characterize Cheney's attacks as mild.

BENNETT: As far as someone who did not have significant scarring in their heart muscle and was able to successfully undergo bypass, that person should be able to carry out the duties of vice president, or, if need be, president.

ROWLAND: But what about job stress?

BENNETT: It's not so much the stress in people's lives, but it's how we deal with that stress.

ROWLAND: A heart attack in President Eisenhower's first term did not prevent him from completing a second term in office.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN.


SHAW: And joining us now, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times," author and journalist Elizabeth Drew, and Wayne Slater of the "Dallas Morning News."

Starting with you, Elizabeth, if the governor chooses Dick Cheney, what is he telegraphing about his ticket and his strategy for dealing with the Democrats?

ELIZABETH DREW, AUTHOR: Well, clearly, he is reaching for experience. He's reaching for someone who actually meets his stated criteria, someone who would be ready to govern at a moment's notice, someone whom he feels he can trust and who would be loyal. But I have to tell you, Bernie, I've been talking around Republicans ever since this name surfaced as very serious, and there are also some questions that this would -- this raised.

Among Republicans, one thing is, is it a forward-look ticket? Is it conveying that the nominee, or his father and their friends, feel that he has to have one of his father's people in order to do it? Also, there is a fair amount of disgruntlement, to be quite honest, among people who were asked to fill out questionnaires listing some of their most intimate secrets, things that they don't particularly want made public.

I just learned today, reliably, that Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona was asked to fill out a questionnaire. And there are a number of people, not just on Capitol Hill, who feel a bit used by this process, if -- as was said earlier -- Bush really had Cheney in mind all along. Except for John Danforth, nobody else was interviewed by the vice presidential -- by, excuse me, the presidential candidate. So there are questions. I think there -- we can come back to this -- there are -- the media and the Gore campaign, I assure you, are going to ask a lot of questions about Cheney's recent business as chairman of the Halliburton company, the world's largest energy services supply company.

SHAW: Ron Brownstein, if it is Dick Cheney, what does this say?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I think it's probably a pick that has more to do with governing than the campaign. I don't think that -- I think that most Republican strategists believe that we are beyond the names that would have a significant impact on changing the electoral dynamic. There are pros and cons of Dick Cheney. He does bring experience. He hearkens back to a less partisan era in some ways, helps Bush with his message of Washington being more civil.

There are downsides in terms of -- as Elizabeth mentioned -- his -- potential Democratic attacks on two -- Republican ticket now with two men with ties to the oil industry -- questions about Bush reaching back to his father and allowing Gore perhaps some more ammunition to make that argument. But I think these are at the margin, Bernie. I think this is a -- this is a pick that is unlikely to significantly reshape the electoral battlefield in the way that a McCain, obviously a Powell, even a Tom Ridge might. Some, in that sense, I think this is more about someone that Bush might want in the room if he is president, than it is someone who is really going to make a significant difference on whether or not he becomes president.

SHAW: And Wayne Slater, your take from Dallas?

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": I think Ron has got it exactly right. One of the things that occurs to me is that Cheney fits the bill in two or three of the departments that Bush was talking about. One, he wanted somebody he agrees with and get along with, someone who adds something to the ticket -- and in this case, adds a foreign-policy element, a sense of gravitas that certainly can help the ticket. And the other thing that it really adds is that, we have a person with whom Bush can work and won't be overshadowed.

I'm struck that the decision, if this is the decision that's finally made, is exactly the kind of person that reflects Bush's strategy and way of governing all along. And what I mean is, Governor Bush has always been risk-averse. He has only taken one significant risk as governor. And that was in 1997, when he proposed a significant tax cut. He failed on that. Everything else that he has done as governor has been really consistent with the advice of his advisers and really consistent with sort of the status quo in Austin.

He does not take risks. And if he chooses Cheney, he will have fulfilled one obligation, and that is: If you can't pick somebody who significantly helps you, do no harm.

SHAW: Let's go back to the subject that Elizabeth Drew raised a short moment ago.

Ron Brownstein, what does all of this say about this election process?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, it's -- you go through a whole process and at the end of the day, you know, the people running it sort of look in the mirror and say, you know: We like ourselves. I believe you have to take Governor Bush at his word that he came to this late in the process.

What strikes me, though, as kind of interesting is that the two finalists, by all accounts, were Dick Cheney and John Danforth, both of whom represented earlier generation of the Republican party -- neither one of which are associated with the post-1994 leadership in Washington -- the revolutionary era of Republican -- both of which hearken back to sort of a different tone in Washington -- in Danforth's case, ideologically as well.

And I think that, you know, it is striking to me that Bush sort of was looking in these places for a way to perhaps reinforce his message that he wants to change the tone in Washington. No one really from the heart of the post-'94 party seemed to make it into the finals of this process.

SHAW: Well, in the process of looking at this candidate, is his health situation -- will his voting record be detrimental -- Elizabeth.

DREW: Well, I'm not sure -- for all the pluses about Cheney -- and it's interesting -- he's a very popular figure in Washington. He gets along with all sorts of people. Now, that makes him a Washington insider, I suppose. I don't -- I think the heart issue will be a distraction for a little while, but I think they've answered that fairly conclusively.

But I'm not sure that they have met the measure of no risk and do no harm. That is a very conservative voting record that was just cited. And I'm sure that Gore and his running mate will make use of that. Furthermore, since he was in Congress, he runs the world's largest energy supply services company. It does business with Iran. He has vociferously opposed -- including last month in a speech in Calgary, Canada -- restrictions on doing business with Iran.

And he has opposed Congressional restrictions on doing business with countries that have a boycott against Israel. Just think about where oil is drilled, and you begin to see the problems. This is not a killer, I don't think, but it is something I suspect maybe wasn't so thought through in that inner circle in Dallas and Austin.

SHAW: What about that, Wayne Slater? Here's a man who voted against the equal-rights amendment for women, among other things. Is this, in effect, a roll of the dice by George W. Bush?

SLATER: I really think, again, it's the opposite. It's a fairly safe pick in the sense that he's done no harm to his campaign. I think there will be some questions about his dealings with Halliburton. On May 31st, he filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating he was going to sell about half the shares of stocks that he owns for several hundred million dollars in Halliburton.

Now, you can look at that any way you want to look at it. One is, any candidate who wants to avoid a conflict of interest would do just that. I could see the Gore people attacking that and saying, look, he sold stock when gas was high. We know who one of the beneficiaries was of the high gas prices this summer, Dick Cheney. But whether that really flies very far is anybody's -- anybody's guess.

In the end...

SHAW: Well, we've been struck by a technical gremlin. We apologize. Wayne Slater just went poof. He's from "The Dallas Morning News," and out thanks to author and journalist Elizabeth Drew, and Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times." Thanks very much.

And still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS, the Democratic candidate: Vice President Al Gore picking up a key endorsement as his campaign responds to the possibility of a Bush-Cheney ticket.


WOODRUFF: Vice President Al Gore is on his way back to Washington this hour, after a full day on the campaign trail. It began in Michigan, where Gore accepted the endorsement of the Sierra Club.

But as Chris Black reports, Gore could not escape the frenzy over who might join the presidential tickets.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to begin by saying a word about running mates.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Michigan, Al Gore acknowledged the feverish speculation about vice presidential candidates.

GORE: I'm sure Governor Bush will announce his sooner or later, as will I. But right now, I just want to say how proud I am to be running with the Sierra Club.

BLACK: The line worked so well he used it again with construction workers in Ohio.

GORE: But I just want you to know I'm proud to be running with the construction trades and the working men and women of this country. I'm proud to have you!


BLACK: As to the real choice, Gore is dropping no early clues. Aides say the vice president plans to take his time on choosing a running mate. Campaign aides say Gore has the luxury to assess the impact of George W. Bush's choice before making his final decision. As speculation centered on former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Gore aides were skeptical, seeing Cheney as a throwback and symbol of the last Bush administration: one Gore adviser calling it the all-oil ticket, referring to Bush and Cheney's ties to the oil business.

The Sierra Club, the nation's largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization, endorsed Gore, passing up the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, who won the support of only one local chapter. A driving force was fear of Bush.

ROBERT COX, PRESIDENT, SIERRA CLUB: We could face a very different America. We could face what the people of Texas are facing now: air pollution, water pollution, toxic waste, record numbers of violations of our clean air and clean water standards, environmental laws unenforced, and corporate polluters unchecked and out of control.

BLACK: The Sierra Club president said Gore's history of environmental activism made him a favorite with the group.

COX: Al Gore has proven himself in governance and has been an advocate long enough to know how to navigate some of these difficult issues involving the health of our planet.

BLACK: Gore, standing on the banks of the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan, jokingly claimed his environmental book, "Earth in the Balance," was selling well in Philadelphia, scene of the Republican National Convention.

GORE: And I know that the polluters and the special interests are coming after he, and I wear their attacks as a badge of honor. I'm with you.

BLACK (on camera): The vice president plans to go on vacation later this week, heading to the shore of North Carolina to spend time with his family and with his own thoughts about who should be his vice president.

Chris Black, CNN, Cleveland, Ohio.


SHAW: From Georgia today, a plus for the Democrats. Party sources say former Governor Zell Miller has agreed to accept an appointment to the U.S. Senate, replacing Republican Paul Coverdell, who died last week. And Miller is planning to run in November to fill the remaining four years of Coverdell's term.

Georgia's Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, is expected to announce his appointment of Miller this evening. Miller remains popular with voters and is likely to discourage any major primary challenge.

Several House Republicans from Georgia have expressed an interest in the seat, now a key battleground as the GOP defends its Senate majority.

There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Still to come, more on the possible GOP running mate with a closer look at Dick Cheney's record as defense secretary.



SCHNEIDER: Cheney is very much President Bush's man. Democrats will call the ticket a retread. Do voters want to go back to Bush one?


SHAW: Our Bill Schneider on the political implications of putting Cheney on the ticket.

And later...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John Adams, George Washington's vice president, called it the most insignificant office that ever the imagination of man contrived. But that was a long time ago. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Bruce Morton on the No. 2 job, then and now.


SHAW: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

Negotiators at Camp David are calling the Middle Peace negotiations "exhaustive" and "exhausting." In his afternoon briefing, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said President Clinton continued a series of meetings with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators today. Control over Jerusalem has been a prime point.

CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace is near Camp David with the latest.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, President Clinton plunged right back into these negotiations, working almost around the clock. In about a half hour from now, he will meet with his U.S. team to map out the evening.

Mr. Clinton's spokesman says he will continue to do a -- quote -- "rolling assessment of the talks" and will keep the summit going as long as there is a realistic chance of getting an agreement.

Mr. Clinton met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators without Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from about 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. this afternoon. Mr. Clinton met with those same negotiators until about 5:00 this evening.

Now, the White House is not ruling out a meeting this evening between Mr. Clinton, Mr. Barak, and Chairman Arafat. But Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said the administration determined that the right approach right now is to have the president work through the issues with the negotiators.


JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They're using a number of different tools to try to reach an agreement, one of which is to sit and go through, and with all of the substantive detail necessary, through a number of issues that -- the work that needs to be done to get there. And it's our judgment at this point that the president, the president working intensively with the negotiators is the most productive use of time in order to get to the agreement.


WALLACE: The main sticking point both sides continue to say is the question of Jerusalem: in particular, the sovereignty of East Jerusalem. Sources close to the negotiations say Mr. Clinton could tackle this thorny issue of Jerusalem if he meets with the Mideast leaders this evening. These sources telling CNN that the president's conversations with the negotiators have so far focused on other core issues, such as the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, reporting live from near Camp David, Maryland.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Kelly.

A hostage standoff in Orlando, Florida ends with tragedy. Police say the gunman, 41-year-old Jamie Lee Petron, shot and killed himself today. A 40-year-old female hostage was also found dead from what appears to be a gunshot wound. Sheriff Kevin Beary spoke to reporters earlier today.


SHERIFF KEVIN BEARY, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: In spite of all of these efforts to avoid a tragedy, we still had one hostage killed in the incident, and our prayers and thoughts are with that victim's family.


WOODRUFF: Petron was suspected of killing a store clerk, and wounding the store owner and a sheriff's deputy.

In Philadelphia, two men were killed today when part of a building they were renovating collapsed. Another man was pulled from the rubble and taken to the hospital. Two workers walked away on their own.

Police say the first floor of the building housed a variety store; the second and third floors were apartments.

We're going to take a break. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


SHAW: One of Dick Cheney's strongest selling points as a running mate for George W. Bush is his experience, especially his tenure as secretary of defense. Now, that Republican sources are saying Cheney is all but certain to be tapped by Governor Bush, CNN's Jamie McIntyre looks at Cheney's record as Pentagon chief and as a leading figure in the Gulf War.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): In 1990, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, a man with no military experience, found himself advising President Bush on how to evict the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.


GEORGE H. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to prevail. I don't want to get up in some semantics about all of this. He's got to get out of Kuwait.


MCINTYRE: According to General Colin Powell's memoir, it was Cheney, a layman, who rejected Desert Storm commander Norman Schwarzkopf's first battle plan as "disappointing" and pushed for a full-scale ground invasion despite his fears of high casualties. Cheney was wrong about how much resistance Iraq would offer, much to his relief at the time.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think it would be accurate to say that generally we believe the campaign has gone extremely well to date.


MCINTYRE: But four months before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Cheney fired one of his generals whose predictions were right on target. Air Force chief Mike Dugan told reporters Iraq had an air force with "very limited capability" and "an incompetent army." Dugan's offense was suggesting air power could win the war and that the American people would not support a lot of "body bags," which did not square with administration policy.

Cheney had a record of showing the brass who was boss. Shortly after becoming defense secretary in 1989, he publicly rebuked another Air Force chief, Larry Welch, for appearing to negotiate with Congress over nuclear missile deployments. As a congressman, Cheney was a solid hawk, voting for President Reagan's massive military buildup, including the so-called "'Star Wars' missile shield."

But as Bush's defense's chief, he oversaw a 25 percent reduction in the size of the military, slashing billions from the Pentagon budget, including Star Wars funding, and closing hundreds of bases overseas.

The current defense secretary, a Republican in a Democratic administration, is among Cheney's admirers.

WILLIAM COHEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think that he brings enormous qualifications to the position.

MCINTYRE: Although even some Cheney fans think he missed an opportunity to transform the U.S. military into a force more suited to the post-Cold War world.

LAWRENCE KORB, FORMER ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: If history look at Secretary Cheney's tenure in the Pentagon, they'll say he was very slow to adapt to the breakup of the Soviet Union.


(AUDIO GAP) ... Congress to approve the Persian Gulf War and in persuading Saudi Arabia to allow U.S. troops to be based there -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jamie, on Cheney's tenure in the Pentagon, his position on gays in the military?

MCINTYRE: Well, during Cheney's time here, gays were not allowed to serve in the military because of the clause in the uniform code of military justice that simply said homosexuality is incompatible with the military. The issue didn't really come up until President Clinton made the pledge, and Les Aspen got saddled with that. So, it's unlikely that Cheney would support any change in that. Although he probably would endorse the "Don't-ask, Don't-tell" compromise, there wouldn't be any liberalizing under the rules under a Bush-Cheney administration.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, given his background may, Dick Cheney may remind voters of the George Herbert Walker Bush's administration. But there are some aspects of the era that even some of the Bush family would prefer to forget.

Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Judy, do as I say, not as I do. Isn't that what our parents always told us? If he picks Dick Cheney to be his running mate, George W. Bush will be following that advice from his own father.



GEORGE H. BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My choice for the vice presidency is Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): What Bush's father did was pick Dan Quayle as his running mate. It's hard to imagine a less like Quayle- like choice than Dick Cheney. Cheney is usually described as solid, safe, experienced, and knowledgeable, words not typically used to describe George W. Bush.

BRENT SCOWCROFT, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What he brings is what Governor Bush does not have, and that is practical experience in working in Washington.

SCHNEIDER: Would Cheney add those qualities to the ticket? Or would his presence on the ticket call attention to Bush's weaknesses? Cheney is very much President Bush's man. Democrats will call the ticket a retread, a return to the past. Do voters want to go back to Bush I? In some ways, yes. When he was up for reelection in November, 1992, President Bush's job rating at 34 percent. Earlier this year, when Americans were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Bush handled his job as president, his rating was up to 74 percent, higher than Bill Clinton's.

Bush I sends a mixed message. Democrats will remind voters of why they did not rehire President Bush for a second term: He couldn't manage the economy. He was out of touch with ordinary Americans.


GORE: In November, George Bush and Dan Quayle will be history. It is time for them to go.


SCHNEIDER: But there were also things voters liked about Bush I, things that Cheney shares, like President Bush's impeccable character, and his record of international leadership. Bush II is trying, visibly, to link himself with his father's international policy. What better way to do that than to have the secretary of defense from the Persian Gulf War as your running mate? Bush II wants to send the message that this is a new Republican Party.

Is it smart to embrace someone from the past like Cheney? Cheney is a conservative like Governor Bush. But also like Bush, Cheney is not harshly partisan. He can work with more moderate Republicans. He was President Ford's chief of staff. The image Bush II wants for the new Republican Party is tolerant, compassionate and inclusive -- an un-Gingrich image, a lot like Bush I.


VICE PRESIDENT BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler nation.


SCHNEIDER: Cheney raises another question: How much influence would former President Bush have in his son's administration? The elder Bush's role in the campaign has already provoked controversy.

GEORGE H. BUSH: And this boy, this son of ours is not going to let you down.

SCHNEIDER: The younger Bush insists he'll set his own priorities.

GEORGE W. BUSH: His major role is to be a loving father.

SCHNEIDER: But with figures like Cheney around the White House, the influence of former President Bush would certainly be felt, for better or for worse.


SCHNEIDER: Now, that's the problem with surrounding yourself with impressive establishment figures like Dick Cheney. You don't know if they make you look more impressive or more like a front man -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Well, although John McCain apparently will not be tapped as Bush's running mate, there is a new indication that the former rivals plan to present a united front. CNN has learned that Governor Bush will spend the night at McCain's cabin in Sedona, Arizona on August 12th. That is two days before the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. The visit was scheduled a number of weeks ago.

And up next: a look back at the evolution of the vice presidency.


SHAW: As Governor George Bush prepares to announce the name of the man who would serve as his vice president -- if they are elected -- we take a moment to consider the office itself. In his "Campaign Journal," our Bruce Morton considers how the vice presidency has changed over the years.


MORTON (voice-over): John Adams, George Washington's vice president, called it "the most insignificant office that ever the imagination of man contrived," but that was a long time ago. Back then, the VP was whoever finished second in the electoral college vote for president, so Adams got Thomas Jefferson as his veep, even though they were in different parties. They changed that. Still, the office stayed fairly obscure.

Woodrow Wilson's vice president, Thomas Marshall, wrote: Once, there were two brothers. One ran away to see. The other became vice president. And neither was ever heard of again." The Democrats chose Harry Truman as Franklin Roosevelt's running mate in 1944. Roosevelt himself had said that any one of three candidates was fine with him, and he kept Truman so ignorant that, when FDR died, and Truman became president, he didn't even know the U.S. was developing the atom bomb, though he was the one who had to decide whether to use it against Japan.

The Cold War probably changed the job. Presidents knew their VP's might have to be president and kept them informed and tried to give them useful things to do. Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower's VP, met Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and got to know most of the international players. And that's been true pretty much ever since.

(on camera); Presidential nominees choose running mates for politics of course: an Easterner with a Westerner; a moderate with a conservative. But more and more in recent years, they have also thought: Can he or she be president?

(voice-over): Bill Clinton picked Al Gore, for instance -- two moderate democrats, two men from the mid-South -- but Gore had Washington experience Clinton lacked, and clearly, could take over if he had too. Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale publicly interviewed candidates when they sought running mates. The most casual recent pick was probably in 1972 when George McGovern, exhausted after a convention session that ran hours late, said to his aides: "Tom Eagleton. He'll be all right. I know him from the Senate."

So much for background check. Eagleton subsequently admitted receiving electric shock therapy and had to leave the ticket, ending any faint chance McGovern might have had of beating Richard Nixon.

George W. Bush's rules seem good: somebody who can be president and somebody you can work with.

It's a very odd job. John Adams again, when he was VP: "I am nothing, but I may be all."

Bruce Morton, CNN, Philadelphia.


WOODRUFF: Just ahead, the process, the possibilities and the participants: a look at George W. Bush's vice presidential selection process.


WOODRUFF: This bulletin hot off the wires: The Associate Press reporting that Governor George W. Bush has decided to offer the position of his running mate, his vice presidential running mate to Dick Cheney, former secretary of defense. The AP is reporting that the job will be offered tonight, Monday night, and separately, the AP is reporting that Dick Cheney has told associates that he would accept it.

Our Jonathan Karl takes a look now back at the Republican veepstakes.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Speculation started even before the primaries.


QUESTION: Would you be interested, Mr. Kasich?

REP. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: All I want to do...

GEORGE W. BUSH: Of course he would be...



KARL: After he clinched the nomination, Bush put in play the name Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania's pro-abortion rights governor. But Ridge's start seemed to fade in the face of opposition by the conservative faithful.


PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN COALITION: I have said on another occasion that if George Bush appoints or selects a pro-choice running mate, it may well cost him the presidency.


KARL: In late April, Bush tapped Dick Cheney to take charge of the search for a running mate.


GEORGE W. BUSH: He's agreed to lead the search. I'm honored that he would take time out of his busy life to do so. I can't think of a better person to do it. He's a man of enormous experience.

KARL: It sounded like he was describing a good vice president, but Cheney seemed to take himself out of the running, assuring shareholders of the Halliburton Corporation, of which he is CEO -- quote -- "I made a long-term commitment to the company and I have absolutely no desire to go back to government."

Bush vowed to have a dignified, low-key search process. For a while it looked like it was a job nobody wanted.

John Danforth's name first emerged in May, but the former Missouri senator said he, too, wasn't interested. Conservatives started to lobby for Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who for one said he'd eagerly accept.

(on camera): Bush's staff has been tightlipped throughout this entire process, but if, as expected, Bush goes ahead and puts Dick Cheney on his ticket, they will not have succeeded in their ultimate goal: making the choice of a running mate a surprise.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Austin.


SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, and of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

WOODRUFF: This programming note. Will Dick Cheney get that nod from George W. Bush? That's the topic on CNN's "CROSSFIRE" tonight, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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