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Breaking News

Bush Officially Introduces Cheney as His Running Mate

Aired July 25, 2000 - 2:56 p.m. ET

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

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go live to Austin, Texas, for a big rally, Texas Governor George W. Bush and his selected running mate Dick Cheney. We should tell you, this programming reminder, tonight: an exclusive interview on "LARRY KING LIVE," Larry and Dick Cheney.

Now to Candy Crowley in Austin, Texas.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, we are at the Irwin Center, which is an athletic center for the University of Texas. I'm told this is the orange room, but I think you can see behind me they have turned it into red, white, and blue, complete with the banner that is the focus of the upcoming convention, which starts Monday. Dick Cheney and his wife arrived here in Texas at the governor's mansion several hours ago. The two -- the four of them actually, because Mrs. Bush is with them, had lunch together, had a time to talk about what they were going to say here today.

What we expect is for the governor to come out, make a few brief remarks and then introduce Mr. Cheney, who will then make his first speech as George Bush's choice for the vice presidency. This has been known for about 24 hours now. The picture that we saw at the governor's mansion this morning made it official. This is a man who meets the three-Bush criteria for the vice presidential selection, that is someone who likes him, that is someone he is comfortable with, someone who is ready to step into the presidency and someone who agrees with the Bush agenda. So Cheney, although he was pointman for the vice presidential search, turns out to be the guy that survives it.

Governor Bush phoned Senator McCain this morning, Senator Hagel and others who had been on the list of possibilities and told them of his choice, to a person they all said that the Cheney choice was a very good one, the right man for the right time, as Hagel put it. So, you know, basically what we are really waiting for is just the picture of what we have known for awhile to be true, that is that we have a Bush-Cheney ticket.

SHAW: Candy, please stand by.

Our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield is in New York.

Jeff, a solidly conservative ticket? JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Yes, but -- and also I think the emphasis should be on solid with respect to Dick Cheney. I was just thinking that 12 years ago, give or take a month, George Bush's father stood at Riverwalk in New Orleans and introduced Indiana Senator Dan Quayle as a bold leap across generations, and within about 24 hours after that first press conference there were a number of Republicans who were thinking, what in heaven's name did George Bush do? Now, obviously that ticket survived.

And clearly, part of what was going on here on the part of George W. Bush is to pick somebody about whose credentials and about whose solidity there was absolutely no doubt.

SHAW: And, Jeff, we will never know -- I think we will never know the influence on this decision by George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States.

GREENFIELD: Well, there were certainly stories today in the press that suggested that he had been an active, enthusiastic lobbyist on behalf of Dick Cheney. That obviously cuts two ways. I mean, there is a link -- in terms of foreign policy, Governor Bush has been happy to surround himself with the kind of political all-stars from Republican foreign policy teams in the past. But you remember back in New Hampshire when George Bush affectionately referred to his son as "this boy," and a lot of people thought that's exactly not the tone that you wanted to hit.

So I suspect there will be some carping on the part of Democrats that this shows that George isn't his own man, that he had to rely on his father for a running mate. I am very, very dubious about just how deep that will cut. But I suspect, given the willingness of political people that talk off the record, we'll find out a lot more about how this happened in the days ahead.

SHAW: And what signal do you suppose this sends to leaders abroad?

GREENFIELD: Oh, very clearly, it sends a signal that "I may be the governor of Texas, you may not know of my foreign policy credentials, but just as I surrounded myself with people like George Shultz and Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell, I'm picking as my running mate somebody who knows the world stage."

In fact, I rather suspect that Dick Cheney has met more world leaders during his tenure as defense secretary than Governor Bush has. It's an interesting kind of way that you put a No. 2 person on the ticket who is more credentialed in the international arena, but that's what happens when the governor is the presidential nominee. There's no other choice. And I think it is a clear signal this is somebody with some seriousness of purpose.

SHAW: Candy Crowley, will this ticket hit the ground running after this rally?

CROWLEY: Well, not quite after this rally, almost, but almost. They are planning a trip to Wyoming tomorrow. I'm not sure that they have to court Wyoming very hard. It is solidly Republican. But it is where Dick Cheney lived for some time. He was a six-term congressman from there, and the Bush campaign said all along that when they had the vice presidential pick, they would indeed take a trip, the two of them together, kind of testing it out for the first time.

But as you know, rarely does the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee campaign together much throughout the campaign. There are just moments and this is one of them.

So tomorrow, they're expected to head to Wyoming for a day trip, do a rally there, presumably somewhere around Casper, which is where Cheney is from. So yes, we expect to see them tomorrow out. This is just a small rally that they wanted to have just to make the announcement, and then tomorrow they do some actual campaigning.

SHAW: And as we look at this stage, the banner, "Renewing America's Purpose," Jeff Greenfield, one of the Republicans most proud has to be former President Gerald R. Ford, who selected Cheney when he was 34 years old to be his chief of staff.

GREENFIELD: It's very interesting that the two presidents that Dick Cheney has direct connection with are Gerry Ford and George Bush. Now, it's not -- it's not saying anything that he was in the Congress when Ronald Reagan was president rather than the executive branch. But that's the sense in which this is a look back.

But speaking of a look forward, here's Governor Bush and Laura and the Cheneys.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you all very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much.

Before I make this important announcement, I would like you all to join me in a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in Paris, France today in that terrible accident of the Concorde airplane. Please bow.

(PAUSE)

May God bless their families.

Now on a happier note, I believe you are looking at the next vice president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Throughout the vice presidential selection process, my foremost goal has been to select an outstanding individual who is capable of serving as president of the United States. I wanted the selection process to be thorough and dignified. I reached out to a distinguished and experienced statesman to lead the search.

For months we worked closely together to review the qualifications of many impressive candidates. As we worked to evaluate the strength of others, I saw firsthand Dick Cheney's outstanding judgment. As we considered many different credentials, I benefited from his keen insight.

I was impressed by the thoughtful and thorough way he approached his mission, and gradually I realized that the person who was best qualified to be my vice presidential nominee was working by my side.

(APPLAUSE)

Before I asked Dick Cheney to chair the selection process, I'd asked him whether he would consider being a candidate himself. At the time he said no, he had a challenging and demanding job with a worldwide company and he was enjoying the private sector. But I kept the thought of him joining me in the back of my mind.

When Secretary Cheney visited me and Laura at our ranch in Crawford, Texas, over the last Fourth of July weekend, we reviewed many candidates, all of whom are very impressive. But I continued to believe the best candidate might be sitting next to me.

I asked him again whether he'd be wiling to join me to accomplish some great goals for our country: to save and strengthen Social Security, to improve Medicare and provide prescription drugs for the elderly, to reform our public schools and to rebuild our military to keep the peace.

This time, he said he was willing to talk with his family and consider it. Early this morning...

(LAUGHTER)

Early this morning, I called and asked him to join me in renewing America's purpose together. So I'm proud to announce that Dick Cheney, a man of great integrity, sound judgment and experience, is my choice to be the next vice president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

I cannot wait for our delegates at our convention next week to hear from this good man, and I ask them to confirm him as our party's choice for vice president. The fact that this outstanding man is willing to serve speaks to the power of our compassionate conservative message and to the promise of our country.

I have to admit something. I didn't pick Dick Cheney because of Wyoming's three electoral votes... (LAUGHTER)

... although we're going to work hard to earn them.

(LAUGHTER)

I picked him because he is, without a doubt, fully capable of being the president of the United States, and I picked him because he will be a valuable partner in a Bush administration.

(APPLAUSE)

Dick Cheney has served our country as chief of staff to a president, served in the United States Congress, and as secretary of defense. He's a man of integrity who is respected by Republicans and Democrats.

Even my opponent, the vice president, once said, Dick Cheney is a good man who is well-liked and respected by his colleagues, and I agree.

I'm proud to call him my friend, and honored to call him my running mate.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'd also like you to welcome Lynn Cheney. She's a woman of many accomplishments. She's a smart woman, capable woman. She served as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. And she's a leader in education reform all across America, and developing of high standards and a sound curriculum for public schools. Lynn is an incredibly important member of this team, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

Laura and I our honored to have Dick and Lynn Cheney by our side.

We look forward to winning and holding out the American promise for every citizen.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my running mate, Dick Cheney.

(APPLAUSE)

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

... this is obviously a very special moment for Lynn and me. Three months ago, when Governor Bush asked me to head up his search team, I honestly did not expect that I would be standing here today.

Governor, I'm honored and proud to join your team, and I enthusiastically accept the challenge, for this reason: I believe you have the vision and the courage to be a great president... (APPLAUSE)

... and I want to do absolutely everything I can to make certain that happens.

When the governor first asked whether or not I would consider being a candidate I respectfully declined. I was deeply involved in running a business, enjoying private life, and I certainly wasn't looking to return to public service.

But I had an experience that changed my mind this spring. As I worked alongside Governor Bush, I heard him talk about his unique vision for our party and for our nation. I saw his sincerity. I watched him make decisions, always firm and always fair, and in the end, I learned how persuasive he can be.

(LAUGHTER)

So this morning when the governor called and asked me to join him as the vice presidential nominee, I accepted with enthusiasm and with an eagerness to get to work.

Governor Bush is seeking not only to win an election but also to lead our nation. He's confronting the tough issues: strengthening Social Security and Medicare, reforming our public schools, cutting taxes and rebuilding America's military. He's shown an ability, here in Texas, to bring Republicans and Democrats together in the public interest. I've watched him put his compassionate conservative philosophy to work in this great state with tremendous results. He's proven himself a leader with consistency and conviction.

I look forward to working with you, Governor, to change the tone in Washington, to restore a spirit of civility and respect and cooperation. It's time for America's leaders to stop pointing the finger of blame and to begin sharing the credit for success.

(APPLAUSE)

And big changes are coming to Washington and I want to be a part of them. And I want to thank my family for their love and their support and their willingness to join me in this campaign. It means more than they will ever know.

We have a tough race ahead of us, but I look forward to this campaign, and I am absolutely confident we will prevail.

(APPLAUSE)

So, Governor, Laura, we're proud to join you in the work ahead for these next three months and the next eight years.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

SHAW: Here they are, the Republican Party's ticket to do battle with Al Gore and the person he selects, live pictures from this rally in Austin, Texas at the University of Texas.

The first word out of Dick Cheney's mouth: "Well," and then he went onto say he is enthusiastic about accepting the challenge. He praised Governor Bush saying, "I believe you have the vision and the courage to be a great president.

Governor Bush said that the more he worked with Dick Cheney during the selection process, the more he began to take note of this man, and showing his wit, he said, "I believe you're looking at the next vice president of the United States. And he said, "I did not select Dick Cheney because of Wyoming's three electoral votes.

Jeff Greenfield is watching all this from New York -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Couple of things struck me. One, in terms of the visual. You look at Cheney and Bush together. It almost looks like father and son. In fact, Dick Cheney is what, five or six years older than George Bush.

SHAW: Right.

GREENFIELD: And it's not just the physical nature, in terms of the experience, you know, Dick Cheney was chief of staff for Gerald Ford in 1976. That means a quarter of a century ago, he was playing a leading role in Washington when the presidential candidate, I believe, was barely out of Harvard Business School. It's just a very interesting reach, not chronologically across generations, but experientially.

The second thing is the tone that Dick Cheney set right away. We're used of thinking of vice presidential candidate as the attack dog, as the folks who feed red meat to the partisans.

I think it's pretty clear already that that is not the role Dick Cheney is going to play. He talked about civility, cooperation. He praised Bush for bringing Republicans and Democrats together.

I think the phrase "grown-up" is the one that leaps to my mind when you ask: Well, why did George W. Bush pick him? Adult supervision in Washington. Stop with the partisan bickering, I'm a throwback to a time when things were more civil and that's what I -- meaning Dick Cheney -- represent here. So that's what struck me right away.

SHAW: And also, Cheney has the aura of a statesman, don't you think, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: That's what I mean by grown-up. I mean, there's something about him, look, this is not -- this is not a rock star. This is not somebody who is -- somebody said yesterday, there may -- where there is steak, there's not much sizzle. But it may be. In fact, I think, based on the ticket, it is the case, that -- what the Bush campaign is trying to say to the country with Dick Cheney is: We are serious-minded about this. We really mean to try to change the tone of Washington. This was a fellow who was in Washington and knows how to do that. And there is that sense of I played on the world stage, as I said before. He probably knows more world leaders than George W. Bush, certainly, and that most vice presidential candidates do, because he comes from the center of power, not from the fringes of it. So, in that sense, I think the whole message is pretty consistent about what this pick means.

SHAW: And, Candy Crowley, this man, in this crowd, in the room where you are, brings a lot of experience, Washington experience, and he's widely respected on both sides of the aisle.

CROWLEY: And he was an instant hit, not just among core Republicans, but among those who had been thought were possibilities for the vice presidential selection. They all think this is a solid hit.

One of the things I think is interesting that has come up, one of the things that the Democrats in sort of a pre-action to this announcement, had said was, you know, Bush played it safe, he didn't do anything daring. And the word that they used here is confident, that this is a confident choice by George Bush.

They believe that the Cheney choice looks beyond the election and into the administration, which of course, they hope will be the Bush administration. They believe that these credentials will serve them well in the Bush administration that they fully expect to have.

So, they believe that this looks like a confident choice because they are picking a man that looks -- that is a serious policymaker and has been, and would easily step into the presidency if needs be.

I think the crack about, you know, I didn't do this for Wyoming's three electoral votes hits at a larger point, which is: this wasn't the sexiest candidate he could have gotten, this wasn't the sizzling candidate, but this was the one that, from the Bush administration -- from the Bush point of view, is a solid choice for a man who can help govern the country.

SHAW: A man who knows Dick Cheney very well is Charlie Black, a top Republican strategist and he's a senior adviser -- was a senior adviser in the Dole campaign.

What does this do for the ticket's momentum going into Philadelphia and the convention next week, Charlie?

CHARLES BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it adds significantly to our momentum, Bernie, because it reinforces what Governor Bush has said he would do. He said he would select someone who would be instantly qualified to be president, who he liked and liked him, and who would agree with him on policy.

He not only met those tests but he also got someone of stature, experience, and wisdom to help him govern. Politics was not the top priority, the ability to help him run the government was; but it's also a wise and popular political choice. SHAW: Do you expect Democrats to take shots at the conservatism of this ticket?

BLACK: Well, I think they will. I mean, I think that it's going to be hard to nitpick Dick Cheney in terms of his stature and qualifications. The bad news is most Democrats around town like Dick Cheney a lot and they're not going to be able to get very many of them to go out on TV and bash him. So, they'll try to nitpick him.

But look, Governor Bush's compassionate conservatism is part of the mainstream of this country. It's what the American voters want. Secretary Cheney, when he was in Congress, also was a compassionate conservative. His philosophy is in sync with Governor Bush's and we think it's the right philosophy to present to the country and the kind of change to propose in Washington.

SHAW: Behind the selection by the governor, how boldly stands out in relief the hand of former president George Bush?

BLACK: Well, I don't know about that. I mean, you heard what Governor Bush said, that he knew Dick Cheney and knew him to be qualified and inquired at the beginning of the selection process. But then, after working very closely with him for a few months, he saw that they had developed a relationship of trust and confidence and that he was the man he wanted.

Now listen, any guy who's been secretary of defense before, you probably want to at least check in with the president he served and check his credentials, but my guess is this was Governor Bush's decision because of the relationship that grew during this selection process.

SHAW: What does this do tactically in voting to Bush's need to have independent and swing voters?

BLACK: Well, I think Dick Cheney has tremendous appeal to Democratic and swing voters. Again, in Washington, he was known as someone who could work across party lines as a bridge-builder. He's somebody who was highly respected for his role as secretary of defense, tremendously successful conduct of the Gulf War, helped President Bush preside over the end of the Cold War.

But most importantly, the message these independents and ticket- splitters want to hear is stop the finger-pointing in Washington, try to change the country on a bipartisan basis. Dick Cheney is the perfect guy to help Governor Bush do that.

SHAW: Do you think that this ticket might be friendlier toward the oil industry?

BLACK: Well, I don't know about that. Governor Bush was once an independent oil and gas producer, a small businessman. Secretary Cheney's company makes high-tech drilling equipment and construction equipment. What his company does is allow us to have more energy and cheaper energy. They don't actually produce the energy themselves. SHAW: Well, the reason why I ask that is that both the governor and Dick Cheney want to see more drilling on federal lands and environmentalists go nuts when they hear that proposed.

BLACK: Well, they do, but I think the folks in Chicago and Milwaukee. who have been paying the high gas prices recently, might want to take a look and an objective view of the prospect of drilling on federal lands as a sound policy that most Americans would agree with.

We're not disturbing wilderness areas or taking away from the environment, even in Alaska, which is where we're talking about.

SHAW: Another point on foreign policy, Mr. Cheney wants to see American business to be able to do business with Iran and to get oil from Iran.

BLACK: Well, we have a new regime in Iran. I think Governor Bush in his comments has said that we need to go slow but to open the doors and build the bridges to Iran.

I can tell you this, that Secretary Cheney has proven that the president sets the policy and he'll carry it out. So whatever Governor Bush wants to do in Middle Eastern policy, Secretary Cheney, Vice President Cheney will do an excellent job of following the president's lead.

SHAW: What do you do about the ruffled and disgruntled feelings that some thought-to-be candidates have right now> There's a lot of grousing in this town. Some people feel that they wasted 60, 70 man hours revealing all kinds of personal things about their lives, their lives rather, and some of them feel that they were used.

BLACK: Well, with all due respect, that's not much of an entry fee to get considered to be vice president of the United States and maybe have a chance to be president. I doubt they're too ruffled.

Listen, if you lose out to somebody that you think is not as good as you were, then you might be disgruntled. Most of these candidates, if not all, are going to believe they lost to a better and a good man.

SHAW: Will they say so publicly, I wonder?

BLACK: Well, I bet you they do. I've already hear from a couple of them today.

SHAW: Here's the governor back. Let's listen.

(APPLAUSE)

Oh, OK. OK.

You just said something that caught my attention. You said you talked to a couple of the people who are on this governor's short list. Who were they? What did they say? BLACK: Well, when I say "talked," I heard them in the media or heard reporters today repeat back to me what they said, and even some of them yesterday before the selection was official highly praised Dick Cheney.

One of Dick Cheney's great qualities is he is unanimously respected in the Republican Party, and Republicans of all stripes are going to be very enthusiastic about this choice. At the same time, Democrats who have worked with him are -- are going to say that he is the kind of person who can work across party lines and help build bridges and build coalitions to pass significant legislation in Washington, D.C.

SHAW: Well, the kernel in that thought was in the statement he made on the stage a short while ago in Austin, Texas with Governor Bush. He said: "It's time for America's leaders to stop pointing fingers and begin sharing the credit."

BLACK: You know, as Jeff Greenfield said, that's a little different than the traditional role you expect in a vice presidential candidate. Sometimes they;re expected to be the attack dog. That's clearly not going to be Dick Cheney's role. And it also tells you that Governor Bush is deadly serious about changing the way we do business in Washington, trying to assemble bipartisan coalitions for the reforms and the changes that we need. He means it. Cheney will help him. It is true things are going to change in Washington.

SHAW: And Jeff, given the demarcations laid out by Cheney, the tone of his remarks, doesn't he have this unusual stature as a vice presidential candidate because of his heft?

GREENFIELD: Because of his heft are you saying?

SHAW: Yes, yes.

GREENFIELD: And he has something else, which I think Charlie Black is putting in a way that I want to flesh out as a nonpartisan, I hope. This is also part of Governor Bush's basic message that goes sort of unstated, that I am not the Republicans you saw over the last several years running the House and the Senate. That is, even though I was once House Republican whip, I am not Newt Gingrich, I am not a fire-breather. And it's something you can't go to a Republican convention and argue.

But I would argue -- and maybe Charlie disagrees with me as a good Republican -- that the subtext of this message is I'm going to bring something new to Washington in place of Clinton, but I'm not bringing the kind of rancor that we heard on both sides of the aisle over the last several years. That's the throwback argument. I am, I think Cheney will argue -- perhaps, you know, subtext -- I am a throwback to a time when people could work cross the aisle, could be civil to each other and not turn into what several people called the politics of personal destruction.

I think that message is carried by his nomination and by the language that both he and Governor Bush used today. BLACK: Well, I think that's right, Jeff, and I think Governor Bush, when he says he's a different kind of Republican, means that, that he wants to take a conservative Republican message translated into compassionate conservative policies that reach everyone in America, that don't leave the disadvantaged behind.

But I also think that this signals that people who can work across party lines, who can compromise on legislation when necessary to get things done, that Dick Cheney fits George Bush's model of how we're going to do business in Washington. And the business about not finger-pointing, not even in the campaign, certainly establishes their credibility that they're not planning to finger-point while they're governing on a bipartisan basis here in Washington.

It will be a dramatic change from Clinton and Gore.

SHAW: Well, Jeff and Charlie, all this sounds rather rosy, but what about the specter of the Democrats possibly taking over control over the House of Representatives? They're not going to roll over if the Republicans are elected.

BLACK: Well, you know -- you know something, that would be too bad. I hope that doesn't happen. And my suspicion is if Governor Bush wins that we will certainly keep and improve on our Republican majority.

But the point is even if the Democrats control the House, Governor Bush in Texas has never had a Republican house and has passed all the reforms that were his priorities when he became governor and has dramatically changed the laws of Texas in education, taxes, tort reform, juvenile justice reform. He did that by working with majorities in the Democratic House and for many years Democratic majorities in the Senate.

So he can do it, and he's planning to do it, hopefully with a Republican majority, but even then he will want Democratic votes so we pass legislation on a bipartisan basis by consensus when possible.

SHAW: Charlie Black, Jeff Greenfield in New York, thanks very much for joining us.

We'll be coming back very, very shortly. When we return, we'll have as our guest California Senator Barbara Boxer. And we should tell you this programming change here on CNN: a special edition at 4:00 p.m. Eastern of "TALKBACK LIVE."

Also, Dick Cheney, the exclusive guest tonight on LARRY KING LIVE at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Back in a moment.

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