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Larry King Live
Dick Cheney Discusses Joining George Bush on the GOP TicketAired July 25, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Dick Cheney, in his first TV interview since becoming George W. Bush's running mate, and his wife Lynne, joining us from Austin, Texas, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We'll bring Lynne into the conversation in a little while. We'll begin with the vice presidential designate of the Republican Party. He'll be nominated next Thursday. He will speak the same night as George W. Bush in Philadelphia.
When, Dick, did this happen? When did you go from being the selector to the selectee?
DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it -- early on, the governor had suggested to me the possibility that he might like to consider me as a candidate, and I respectfully declined the opportunity. After that, he asked me to head up the search effort, which I was happy to do.
I think it really became a serious possibility in terms of the two of us thinking about it, really, July Fourth weekend. I came down and...
KING: What happened then?
D. CHENEY: Well, I came down and spent the better part of the day at the ranch, down in Crawford, Texas -- this was July 3rd, as a matter of fact. And we went over, at that stage, sort of, where we were with respect to the review process, talked about a lot of candidates, had lunch together.
After lunch, he walked me out on the back porch, and reiterated once again his desire to consider me as a potential candidate for the post. And I told him at that point that -- in light of his desires and an obligation I felt, that I'd take a look at it; that I'd talk to my family about it, and see whether or not it was something that I could agree to.
So it was really, say, starting about the Fourth of July, then, that we began the process. I scheduled a physical, talked with the family, later on talked with the board of directors at my company at Halliburton, and of course eventually all of this came to fruition this morning when he called about 6:30 and formerly offered me the post and I formerly accepted.
KING: What, Dick, in the end, changed your mind?
D. CHENEY: Well, Larry, I -- I could think of a lot of reasons why I didn't want to do it, in terms of mostly personal circumstances. I'd devoted 25 years of my life to public service. Lynne and I had really enjoyed the last seven years in private life. I loved running Halliburton, one of the world's great companies. We have family -- were able to spend a lot of time with the family. We've got grandkids.
D. CHENEY: Financially, obviously, much better off than we had ever been in government.
But the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it was important to take on; that I felt that we had been enormously blessed in our lives with some tremendous opportunities, and that when you are asked to pay back, so to speak, that you have an obligation to do that.
But the other thing that really had a big impact was the opportunity to work with the governor. I had watched him for five years here in Texas. He has done a tremendous job, in terms of building a bipartisan coalition, undertaking some major reforms on the economy, on education, in particular. And as I watched him and talked to him, and listened to him talk about what he wanted to do as president, talk about his hopes and aspirations, I felt, I guess, a good deal of warmth towards him. And when he asked me to take it on, it was hard to turn him down.
KING: Did his father play any part in this? Did President Bush talk to you?
D. CHENEY: I did talk to President Bush. But no, I think this was strictly the chemistry, really, between the governor and myself.
He's a very persuasive fellow. That's one of the reasons that he's been successful here in Texas. He can talk people into doing what he thinks needs to be done. He's a man of conviction, and his capacity to explain why you ought to sacrifice your own personal wants and desires in order to be part of a larger cause is very impressive. I think that's a mark of real leader. And as I say, so when the final call came it was easy for Lynne and me to say yes.
KING: You mentioned your health and your checkup.
Dick and I share a similar situation; we have both had open heart surgery. I had mine in December of '87.
I don't know -- you had yours in August of '88. I remember sitting in a stairwell in New Orleans, you and I. And you wanted -- you wanted to know everything about that surgery in detail.
How is your health now? How are you -- how you do doing in the weight area, and cholesterol, and that whole thing? D. CHENEY: Well, I remember very well that night in New Orleans, Larry, because I had, earlier on, decided to schedule the bypass surgery actually for the next day.
D. CHENEY: And the -- it was elective at that point, but in order for me to be able to go on living the kind of active life I enjoyed up to till that point, I really needed to address the question of coronary artery disease.
I haven't had any problems since. The bypass worked very well. You gave me great advice that night. You were a big fan of the procedure and thought that it made a great deal of sense.
I have give up smoking. I exercise regularly; try to watch what I eat. I do all those things a prudent man would do.
The other thing I think that's been instrumental in my own case is that the technology's gotten significantly better, the medications that are available today for lowering cholesterol and managing the kind of medical problem that you and I have have just gotten phenomenally better -- much better than they were 20 years ago.
KING: So you have no fears of carrying on any factor that this job entails.
D. CHENEY: No. And I'd remind my friends out there that, after I underwent the bypass surgery, I then took on the assignment of secretary of defense, supervised the Gulf War. I can't think of a more stressful situation than that.
I've been, for the last seven years, in the private sector, five years now running a major corporation with 100,000 employees operating in 120 countries around the world. So I've always lived and operated in a fairly intense environment and I don't have any problems here.
D. CHENEY: I've talked with the doctors. I wanted to make sure that it was their judgment that there was no medical reason why I couldn't accept this assignment and that was, in fact, their judgment.
KING: How do you...
D. CHENEY: We have released today their medical statements.
KING: Have you gained any weight?
D. CHENEY: I have gained some over the years. It is constant battle when you get to be 59 years old and like to eat. But I try watch it.
KING: We'll be back with more of Dick Cheney. Lots to talk about. His wife will be joining us as well. He will be nominated by his party to be the vice president. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe you're looking at the next vice president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll get into some issues with Dick Cheney.
KING: Down toward the end, were there still other people in the running?
D. CHENEY: There were, Larry. We had really some tremendous candidates out there. It was a privilege for me to be asked by the governor to take a look at them and I did do that.
But I think a lot of the folks that were looked at -- it's public knowledge at this point -- but we promised them confidentiality in terms of the proceedings, and we wanted to maintain that. But we had a number of governors and senators, really outstanding individuals in the Republican party, leaders in their own right. A good number of them would have been ideal candidates for the governor to have run as vice presidential candidate. Say in the end he decided on me, but that's not a reflection on the lack of quality in the other people that we reviewed.
KING: Did he call them to your knowledge?
D. CHENEY: He did. He's has called virtually all of them today to let them know of his decision. And I must say that they were all very supportive.
KING: All right, Dick, already the opposition is saying -- Barbara Boxer and others -- that your record is -- in fact Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying that your voting record was more conservative than his...
... and that this is the most conservative ticket ever. How do you respond to that?
D. CHENEY: Well, I don't know that it's the most conservative ticket ever. I remember a man named Barry Goldwater who ran for president some years ago.
KING: Bill Miller.
D.CHENEY: Ronald Reagan, I think, was a good solid conservative, certainly a leader of the conservative movement in Republican Party. And I consider myself a conservative. That's -- was the philosophy that I have espoused over years, that I supported, and certainly I do have a conservative record, but I'm proud of it.
KING: And do you accept the concept of compassionate conservatism, the new kind of conservatism that the governor's talking about?
D. CHENEY: Well, I do. I think if you go back and you look, for example, at my time in the Congress, back in '80s and late '70s, we really were in a period then that was very different from what we've got today. We were in a period when we had, going into 1980-'81, stagflation. We had high rates of inflation and high interest rates, high unemployment coming out of the Carter administration.
We had huge budget deficits and at the same time we had some significant defense needs. We badly needed to rebuild America's military in the early 1980s. That was key to winning the Cold War. And winning the Cold War, frankly, is one of the things that's allowed us to cut back on defense spending from about 6 percent of GNP during the Cold War, to less than 3 percent today. That's where an awful lot of savings have come from.
And you look at...
KING: And you led the fight for that reduction, right?
D. CHENEY: Well, I led the fight for the buildup in early the '80s and then when we won Cold War, it was my responsibility as, secretary of defense in the early '90s, to, in fact, reduce our military in a sound and intelligent way, to take it down but to maintain the quality of force, make sure we still had the capacity to perform whatever missions were required of us.
KING: Any of the votes -- and they've mentioned some today, and hence we'll discuss them -- but are there any votes, if you had to do them now, you'd change?
D. CHENEY: Well, I expect there probably are. I mean, I cast votes over a decade in the House of Representatives. And I can't say...
KING: I mean, any major one? You voted against Head Start, for example, which is considered, I guess, by many, one of the most successful programs to come out of the '70s and '80s. Would you vote against it now?
D. CHENEY: I would not vote against Head Start today. But I think, as I recall, at the time, there were questions about the content of Head Start, whether or not, in fact, we were operating the program in the fashion that would allow us to get the maximum benefit out of it.
The other thing that's important here to point out, Larry, is that the '80s, with those huge budget deficits -- one of my major concerns consistently throughout that period of time, an issue I ran on repeatedly back home in Wyoming, was the notion of fiscal responsibility, of finding ways to try to gain control over federal spending, to reduce federal spending and to move towards a balanced budget.
Today, in the '90s, thanks to the dynamism of the American economy, and I think the election of a Republican Congress in 1994, we now have a significant surplus, and we're now in a position to be able to look at doing some things from the compassionate standpoint, for example, that we simply couldn't afford 10 or 15 or 20 years ago.
So, yes, I think it's entirely responsible, as the governor has advocated; that there are areas today, where we do, in fact, want to allocate resources, deal with problems, find ways to bring along the less fortunate in our society so that they share in the benefits of our very dynamic economy.
KING: Do you give the president some credit for this economy?
D. CHENEY: Oh, I think you've got to give a lot of people credit. I think -- and certainly he has been there during the most recent period of time, and I think deserves credit in areas, for example, as appointing Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Fed.
D. CHENEY: I think Greenspan and Paul Volker both have done yeoman duty and the presidents who appointed them to that position, including Carter and Reagan and Bush and now Clinton, all deserve some credit for that.
But I really think -- as I look back, at the prosperity we're enjoying today, I don't think is a seven-year phenomenon. And I don't think the economy suddenly turned around when Bill Clinton and Al Gore arrived in Washington. I think what happened is, if you go back look at the early Reagan years, that's when we really put in place the policies that ultimately led to the success. We changed the tax structure, for example. And in fact, encouraged the kind of investment and entrepreneurship that created the very dynamic economy that's out there today.
Now, again as I say, we laid the groundwork in the early '80s to win the Cold War, and winning the Cold War was key to being able to reduce the defense budget that has, in fact, contributed directly to today's budget surpluses.
KING: Do you look forward to campaigning? It's been a long time since you campaigned. I guess your last campaign was for House in Wyoming in -- what? -- the late '80s.
D. CHENEY: The last time I had my name on ballot, Larry, was 1988, when I ran for the House for the sixth time in Wyoming.
I do look forward to it. You know, it's -- when you think about the time I spent in politics and you think about national tickets, I obviously had the opportunity over the years to support a number of great candidates running for national office, but I'd never done it myself. I thought about it at one point back in early '90s, considered whether or not I wanted to run, and decided that I did not want to do those things I would have do to if I were to pursue it, sort of, on a full-time basis and run for president myself. But to be asked now to join with Governor Bush, to be part of his effort, to get back into the arena, so to speak, is something that I do look forward to. It should be a lot of fun.
KING: Thank you. You won that House seat after that the heart surgery.
D. CHENEY: I did.
KING: We'll be back with more of Dick Cheney. His wife, Lynne, will join as well.
Tomorrow night, by the way, all nine women in the United States Senate will be here. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With Dick Cheney. He's in Austin, Texas, where, today, George Bush said he will be his running mate.
KING: Dick, on the abortion issue, a couple years ago on this program you said that you'd been pro-life all your life, and that included every aspect of pro-life. I believe you'd even say you're pro-life in the area of rape and incest; right? You believe the fetus is a person.
D. CHENEY: Well, I consistently supported the pro-life position, Larry, but I don't have any problem supporting the pro-life proposition as Governor Bush has supported it, that is that it would allow for exceptions for rape, incest or the life of mother.
I also think the governor's made a very important point here that, of course, at this point, I don't think there's that much support, in terms of being able to pass a pro-life amendment. I think the important thing for us is to try to provide the kind of leadership to reduce abortions as much possible and to deal with those cultural and social issues, make sure there's an aggressive opportunity out there for people to pursue the adoption course, for example.
I think there are a number of areas where the American people can agree, where we do have support for positions that, in effect, would reduce the incidence of abortion, and I think a lot of people, pro- life and pro- choice, could support.
KING: Have you changed, then, in the area of rape and incest? Have you modified your own views?
D. CHENEY: No, I have, over the years, generally supported the pro-life amendment. Sometimes it has been offered with the exceptions, sometimes without -- really dependent on the circumstances.
I can recall, I think, debates in the House of Representatives when the issue was whether or not you'd use federal funding to finance abortions, where it was offered in different terms.
KING: You think it's a major issue in the campaign?
D. CHENEY: Well, I don't think so. That is to say, I don't believe it ought to be the defining issue for our party. I think we've got to be a party that's big enough to incorporate within it people of diverse views.
Obviously, this is an emotional issue for everybody. It's a difficult kind of issue to -- for people to compromise on. I think we've got to be understanding and tolerant of one another's views, and look for ways to work for common solution, and hopefully look for ways to give maximum protection to life.
KING: You also -- I guess they're saying -- and I haven't got the record in front of me, but you voted against every gun control law. Is that is true?
D. CHENEY: I can't say that I voted against every one, Larry. I'd have to go back and analyze the record. I have consistently supported the Second Amendment of the Constitution, believe in the right to keep and bear arms, and have generally opposed efforts to -- to impose additional regulations on the right to own guns.
Again, I think a lot of those votes were cast 15 or 20 years ago. I think if you look at the kind of package that Governor Bush has supported, I think that there are indeed provisions there that make sense. I think we can do much better job than we have been doing, in terms of enforcing the existing laws that are on the books with respect to gun ownership. I think it makes sense to talk about ensuring that trigger locks are available, for example, for all handguns, and for people who want to use them. I think we ought to encourage those kinds of things.
So, I think there are a number of things we can do that I certainly would support and that Governor Bush has proposed, and that I'd be happy to lend my efforts to.
KING: Can we say, Dick, that there are areas where you have changed or modified over the years? I guess we all do.
D. CHENEY: Well, I think the big one, Larry, is the one I mentioned, that, you know, if you look at my voting record back in '80s, in terms of spending issues, I voted, I'm sure, a great many times against various and sundry worthy programs that I objected to on the grounds that we simply couldn't afford them or that the amount of money that was being appropriated or authorized was too great in light of our very large federal budget deficit.
I can come forward now, and here we are at the beginning of the 21st century, we do have surpluses, we do have the opportunity, I think, to go out and do some things that we might have opposed 20 years ago.
One of the things that comes to mind, for example, is being able to provide prescription drugs through Medicare. I think that's a proposal we definitely ought to look at. Very difficult for us to have supported it in the past, but now we've got the resources, we've got the opportunity to reform the Medicare system, to add those kinds of benefits for our senior citizens. I think we ought to take a look at it.
KING: We'll discuss some things international with the former secretary of defense, and then we'll meet his wife, who's a very familiar figure to American viewers. She co-hosted CNN's Sunday edition of "CROSSFIRE," you will remember.
Some more moments with Dick and then Lynne joins us as well, right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Governor Bush told us last week that he fully supported the president's efforts in the Middle East, and hopes that they bear fruit, and that he, as president, would continue to be involved in that area.
KING: The talks broke down today. And any of your thoughts?
D. CHENEY: Well, this, obviously, is one of the most difficult challenges that any administration faces. It's been there for many administrations. I can remember it being a problem back during the Ford administration, when we negotiated the original Sinai agreement between Egypt and Israel after the '73 Yom Kippur War.
We've made significant progress, I think, because leadership on the part of many in Israel, as well as in Arab world, I think Prime Minister Rabin, Prime Minister Barak, I think progress with Palestinians, with Mr. Arafat, and some of the Arab leaders in the world -- is -- in that part of the region has been significant, too.
I guess the frustration that many of us feel, Larry, is that we haven't yet been able to, sort of, put final closure to it. But I hope that we'll continue to do that. I know certainly that would be an objective of Governor Bush when he's elected. I think Bill Clinton deserves some credit for trying to bring the parties together, but we clearly need to continue the effort.
KING: Dick Cheney is a very close friend of General Colin Powell. They got very close during the Gulf War, when Colin Powell was the national security adviser, and Dick Cheney was the secretary of defense. We saw them together often. Ran into them often in Washington. Became almost like brothers. And last week, Governor Bush said that certainly Powell would be a high candidate for the Cabinet.
Would that be one of -- would you go along with that suggestion that Colin Powell serve in a Bush-Cheney administration?
D. CHENEY: Well, I'd be delighted to join up with Colin again. He's a superb individual. General Powell was the man I recommended to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We served together for nearly four years. I can't contemplate my service in the Pentagon, through Desert Storm and the end of the Cold War, without thinking very fondly and favorably of General Powell. He's a -- really is a great American. It was my privilege to serve with him, and I can't think of anything better than to have the opportunity to renew that relationship.
KING: And it was Ronald Reagan who made him national security adviser, as I mentioned, that really brought him to the front, right?
D. CHENEY: That's right. Yes, when I first met General Powell, he was the 5th Corps commander in Germany. Later on, I had the opportunity to deal with him when he was, first, the deputy national security adviser, and then the national security adviser at the end of the Reagan administration.
He brought a wealth of experience to his responsibilities. Not only a great military leader but also a man of excellent judgment; understood the policy debates at that federal level; knew what a president and a secretary of defense needed when you had to make difficult decisions about committing American troops.
So I can't think of anybody who would be better qualified, or more sought after in any administration. Certainly to the extent that Governor Bush were to ask my advice, and I know the high regard he has for General Powell, I would recommend him for any post that he wanted to serve in.
KING: We are going to ask you after the break and Lynne joins us what kind of vice president you see yourself. Do you want to be activist? Do you want to travel a lot? What particular role you have?
There's one vote that's always puzzled that you made. In 1986, a House resolution urging South Africa to release Nelson Mandela -- you voted against it; why?
D. CHENEY: I'm not familiar with the vote, Larry. I'd have to go back look at it.
I can remember the debate over apartheid and what kinds of sanctions ought to be imposed by United States. I also remember that the black community in South Africa was divided. You had Chief Buthelezi, who was the chief of the Zulu tribe, a prominent opponent of U.S.-imposed sanctions during that period of time. So, it wasn't clear-cut.
I have great respect for Nelson Mandela. I have not looked specifically at the vote you mentioned; I'd want to go back and look at it. I do think he deserves a great deal of credit for the leadership he exhibited. He's obviously is a historic figure of major importance in ending apartheid in South Africa, and I wouldn't want whatever vote I may have cast back in the '80s to, in any way, suggest I don't have enormous respect for him or for what he accomplished.
KING: This man you're watching could be one heartbeat away from presidency in a few months.
His wife will join us.
She -- what do they call the vice president's wife, Dick?
KING: Is she second lady?
D. CHENEY: Boss.
KING: Good. Well-said.
We'll be right back with the boss as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL COLIN POWELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: He's made a superb choice. I have known Mr. Cheney for many, many years, and I worked very closely with him for four years, as you know. When I was chairman he was secretary of defense. He is loyal. He is smart. He is good manager. He is a good leader. He will respond to what the president wants done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And now joining us in Austin, Texas is Dick Cheney, who married his high-school sweetheart, and there she is on the right side of your screen, Lynne Cheney. They were wed in 1964. They have two daughters. She was the former head of the National Endowment of the Humanities and the former co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE SUNDAY."
Did you favor this move, Lynne Cheney? Did you say from -- when you learned on July 4th that your husband was now in the ballpark that you wanted to be in that ballpark?
LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF DICK CHENEY: It took some persuading, frankly, Larry. You know well the comforts, the pleasures of private life. But as Dick became more serious about it and I began to think more seriously about this mission, this undertaking, I became enthusiastic.
I'm a grandmother now. I've spent the last eight years having to cover my granddaughters' ears when they were watching the nightly news at times. I have seen that public service can be a good thing, and I have seen public servants -- presidents, senators, congressmen -- who would inspire young people to enter the cause of serving in national life. And what we've seen for the last eight years, I think, hasn't inspired that. I think what we could see the next eight years could inspire it under Governor Bush, I hope President Bush.
And this seems like a worthy undertaking, one that's...
KING: You have been...
L. CHENEY: ... worth putting a few things aside for and getting involved in.
KING: There is no doubt you have been very political. You have written books, you have been on television. You are an advocate. Will that continue?
L. CHENEY: Well, yes. And one of the things I'm most interested in being an advocate for is education. Before Dick became involved in the vice presidential search, I was part of Governor Bush's education team, and I've been tremendously impressed as I've watched what he's done here in Texas.
Hispanic 4th-graders in Texas read better than Hispanic 4th- graders anywhere else in the country. The education record here in Texas is really superb. It's based on principles that many good people have long supported: the idea of accountability, the idea of standards. And so I hope that I can have a continued role in working on the education issue.
KING: Dick Cheney, do you want -- do you -- are you going to be the kind of vice president who will tell the president, will you call them as you see them? Do you want your wife always to give you her input? What's your view of this potential new post?
D. CHENEY: Well, in terms of Lynne's role with me, that's always been a very close relationship. Excuse me, Larry. She's always been my most valued adviser. And I can assure you she always gives me straight advice, exactly what she thinks.
What Governor Bush and I have talked about and what he's made clear, say, as we've gone through this search process, looking for a running mate, is that he very much values people who level with him, who tell him exactly what they think.
My experience over the years has been that I'm most effective when I'm able to speak my peace, but also when I do it privately, when I can offer the kind of advice and guidance that presidents oftentimes need. But the ability to do that and to do it in a nonpublic fashion, I think, is absolutely key. And I think Governor Bush, and as Lynne said, soon-to-be President Bush, I think, is admirably suited to that.
He likes the give-and-take of debate. He likes to hear the argument on the part of people who've got views to express. But he's also very decisive once he's listened and thought about it and gathered the facts and he makes decisions. And you get on to the next piece of business. And I like that very much. KING: Lynne Cheney, what will be your role, as you see it, in the campaign? What do you expect to do? Will you be traveling with your husband? Are you going to go separately? What's your outlook? L. CHENEY: No, I think I'd rather -- I'd rather be with Dick. I think that's what I'll try to do.
KING: Because Governor Bush mentioned that he and Laura might often go different ways because she's such an effective campaigner. Why not get two for the price of one?
L. CHENEY: Well, Laura is great, and one of the real pleasures of this last few days has been getting to spend time with Laura Bush. And I think that everyone who watches her speech at the Republican convention will be convinced about what a fine first lady she'll be.
KING: Was the chief of staff job, was that a good background for what you're about to entertain here, Dick?
D. CHENEY: I think it is. It's -- obviously, it's a very different job in the sense that there's no statutory authority in the chief of staff's job. The vice president, of course, is a constitutional position.
But having operated in the White House, having managed the White House, run the White House staff, been there to oversee the process on behalf of President Ford back in the '70s, I think all of that was good training.
I'd say the role of the vice president's different. It really is the kind of post where the content, the process really depends very much upon that personal relationship you develop with the president in terms of whether or not he's able to rely on you. It's evolved significantly over he years I think. In recent administrations the vice president's role has taken on new meaning and new significance, but that's primarily because the job of the man on top is big enough that there's plenty of work to go around. And recent presidents have been willing to share that.
KING: Is there an area of expertise you particularly want to get ahold of?
D. CHENEY: Well, I see myself in a sort of a role of being able and willing do whatever the president needs to have done. Obviously, I have got a strong background in defense, in intelligence. I served for several years in the Intelligence Committee in the House. I know a good deal about foreign policy.
I think it's also one of the things that I'll bring to this time in government that wasn't there before is that for five years I've run a Fortune 500 company, the world's biggest energy services and engineering and construction company in Halliburton.
I've got to tell you, Larry, that that private-sector experience has been very meaningful for me. It's a very different responsibility when you've got to go out there and make a payroll. You've got 100,000 people that you're responsible for. And looking back at the government, so to speak, from the private sector I think I've got some lessons learned now and some wisdom I didn't have before. And hopefully, I'll be more effective than the last time I was in government.
KING: Can you go, though, to being head man to being second head man?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think so.
KING: I mean, you run this company.
D. CHENEY: I do. But anybody who has run a large corporation these days knows you don't really run it. In many respects, you succeed by your ability to be able to persuade people to do what needs to be done. The great strength of Halliburton are our employees, and you're almost a partner with them, you work with them.
You can give orders all day long, but it's really a matter of providing leadership, of giving the company a vision, of implementing a strategy that satisfies the needs of the customer and the shareholders as well, too.
But it's, in that respect, I suppose, being a CEO of a major corporation these days isn't all that different from providing political leadership for a government.
KING: We'll be back with more of the Cheneys. We'll get in some phone calls, too, right after this.
KING: Lynne Cheney, we all remember the Gores and the Clintons and the bus rides together.
KING: What's planned for the Cheneys and the Bushes?
L. CHENEY: Well, I hope we'll be spending a lot of time together, but I've got to tell you, Larry, I haven't had time today, and I don't think Dick has yet either, to sit down and really understand the entire campaign program.
D. CHENEY: One of the big things we're going to do, Larry, is tomorrow we head out, all four of us, to -- to our home town in Casper, Wyoming, and we're going to go back and hold a rally in front of our high school, where Lynne and I graduated many years ago. And that'll be great fun. That's a joint effort that we've got under way starting tomorrow.
KING: And then the governor told us that he, starting Friday, he starts a trek to Philadelphia stopping in various key cities along the way. Are you going to be with him in that?
D. CHENEY: We'll join him probably for one or two days in that run-up to the convention, but we'll probably arrive at the convention a little bit before he does. I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm still in the process of transitioning out at Halliburton. My retirement from Halliburton will be effective in about two weeks, August 16th to be precise. And so I've still got some things to tie up before I can go campaign full-time.
But we will -- we will spend at least a day on the trail with him in that period after they head for Philadelphia.
KING: And what do you do now with the boards you sit on, the stock options, all that kind of thing? Does that go into trust funds? Do you give it up? What happens financially?
D. CHENEY: Well, what happens financially, obviously, is I take a bath, in one sense.
KING: Big bath.
D. CHENEY: When I first went to government, getting a government paycheck was a big pay raise for me. That was many years ago. We were poverty-stricken graduate students. Now going back from the private sector, obviously, the compensation financially isn't as great. But that's not why you do it.
What I will do is retire from my post at Halliburton. I'm 59. We have a policy that you can take early retirement after age 55, and I'll do that.
The -- I do serve on a number of boards, and what we'll have to do, assuming we're successful in the campaign, by January, before I could go on the government payroll, our holdings would have to go into a blind trust. We'd have to get rid of anything that might constitute a conflict of interest, and totally, in effect divest ourselves of all of our holdings. And obviously, we'll do whatever is required by the Office of Government Ethics to make sure we're in compliance with those standards.
KING: Lynne Cheney, did you campaign with Dick when he ran for Congress, and if so, did you like it?
L. CHENEY: Yes. Wyoming's a wonderful place to campaign. The countryside is beautiful. The people are wonderful. And I enjoyed it greatly.
KING: Do you look forward, therefore, to campaigning nationally?
L. CHENEY: Well, you know, it just seems like a great adventure to me, the opportunity to see this country, to talk to people about issues that really matter, to -- to be part of a cause, to be part of a crusade to try to accomplish something that seems really very important to me. It sounds like a great way to spend the next few months.
KING: Dick, the governor says he's going to -- it's going to be a very -- a "pro" convention. It's not going to be a lot of back- sniping at the Democrats. It's going to be more of what we intend to do rather than knocking what they do. But he expects the campaign to get very, very rough. Do you?
D. CHENEY: Well, I hope it is not very, very rough, Larry, but I'm afraid it might be. One of the things that I find most appealing about the governor's campaign so far is I think it's been a very positive campaign, and as I mentioned earlier in the show, one of the things that is most attractive about this man is the way that he has in Texas formulated a program, built bipartisan support for it, got it approved, won the support both of Republicans and Democrats.
It's such a different sort of style of operation, a different environment than what you find in Washington today, where there is sort of endless partisan bickering, where, frankly, I don't think the White House has provided the kind of leadership the American people have come to expect.
And so I hope that we can run a positive campaign. I hope that Al Gore will do something besides spend all of his time attacking the Bush-Cheney ticket, so to speak, but we'll see.
It certainly is our intent to run a positive campaign. As Governor Bush has said we'll be happy to counterpunch if that's necessary. But we're going to run on a very positive platform, on the ideas of reforming Social Security and Medicare and rebuilding America's military, improving the tax system. Those are all very solid proposals, and I think that's the basis upon which the campaign ought to be conducted.
KING: We'll be back with more of the Cheneys on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, right after this.
KING: Let's get a call in. San Jose, Costa Rica for the Cheneys, hello.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen, Mrs. Cheney.
KING: Go ahead.
D. CHENEY: Good evening.
CALLER: I'm a retired United States Army sergeant. I served in Vietnam, 75th Rangers, retired for disability at the age of 22. And my question for the former secretary is, with what branch of the service did you serve? Thank you.
D. CHENEY: I didn't serve in the military at all. I was -- was the secretary of defense but without any prior military service. KING: Do you favor, by the way, the new concept of some sort of nuclear shield system? Return to semi-"Star Wars" again?
D. CHENEY: I think we need robust ballistic missile defense, Larry. I think if you look out there around the world, there are a lot of nations that are spending time and effort trying to develop ballistic missile capability.
Don Rumsfeld, a very substantial contribution last year with a commission he chaired, assessing the threat, and there is no doubt but what in the years ahead there will be nations who are hostile to the United States that will indeed have ballistic missile capability and probably warheads of mass destruction to go on them.
For us to leave the United States undefended I think would be a travesty. I think it's absolutely essential that we develop defenses, that we deploy them, and also that we not limit ourselves just to defending the United States. I think we've got to be able to reach out, defend our friends and allies around the world.
If we had been up against in the Gulf War a nation with a significant ballistic missile capability, if they had been able, if the Iraqis had been able to threaten Europe, for example, or the United States with a ballistic missile strike, our task would have been far more difficult than it was.
KING: We'll take one more pause, be back with our remaining questions, and ask about personal life as they approach the possible return to living in Washington, after this.
KING: Lynne Cheney, how does family feel about all this, your two daughters?
L. CHENEY: They have mixed feelings. It's again a matter of valuing privacy, on the one hand, versus wanting to make a commitment to a cause larger than yourself, a commitment to public life.
KING: Because you do lose your privacy as you know, Lynne.
L. CHENEY: Oh, I know that, Larry.
D. CHENEY: We know this, Larry.
KING: Yes. What about going back to Washington, Lynne?
L. CHENEY: Well, I still have -- I've had an office at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington during the years between our last time in Washington and now. So I get back there from time to time.
Washington is a nice city. I've enjoyed being in Texas. I love most of all being at our home in Wyoming. But Washington is a nice place.
KING: Gainesville, Florida, one more quick call, and then a question for Dick. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. Mr. Cheney, I wanted to ask you, how do you feel about the handling of the Elian Gonzalez case and what do you think about the future of Cuba and for Castro with -- with the new changes the administration is trying to do?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think the situation in Cuba is tragic in the sense that Fidel Castro is still there. I think if he weren't there, there wouldn't even have been an issue in the Elian Gonzalez case. I think the people of Cuba would like to live in freedom and enjoy the benefits of democracy, and I think it's only a matter of time until they will.
KING: And what about the return of Gonzalez with his father?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think like a lot of people I was torn. I -- I think the sacrifice his mother made in order to get Elian to freedom is something that we can all feel very strongly about emotionally. On the hand, I also believe in the sanctity of family and understand why the father might legitimately want to reclaim his son.
So I -- it was a tough case. As I say, it wouldn't have been an issue if Fidel Castro were no longer in Cuba and if Cubans were living in democracy.
KING: Dick, you've been on the national stage for a long time, but no stage is like this one. Do you expect a lot of now here we go with stories are going to be breaking and what was Cheney doing here and who was there? Do we expect a lot of this?
D. CHENEY: Well, I expect so, Larry. I mean, unfortunately, as I say, the nature of public life these days has -- has gotten to be fairly tough, and you give up all privacy when you go back to government.
But I -- say, I have been through the mill before. I've had three full-field FBI investigations. I've been confirmed by United States Senate to serve as secretary defense unanimously, been through the fires of the Gulf War, and have watched a number of problems over the years: everything from Watergate to Iran-Contra.
So I think, hopefully I say, the period ahead will be characterized by a debate over positive vision for where we want to go with America. I think Governor Bush has got a great program. I'm delighted to support it, proud to be his running mate.
KING: Lynne, you wrote a novel once. A vice president was in it. He passed away. Are you -- are you concerned about the health of your husband?
L. CHENEY: Well, Larry, if you remember the plot of my novel...
KING: Dick is smiling. I remember the book.
D. CHENEY: Great book.
L. CHENEY: This vice president passed away doing things that no vice president ought to be doing.
L. CHENEY: And so...
KING: Very correct.
D. CHENEY: Nobody knew he was gone.
KING: That's right. They hid it.
L. CHENEY: That's right. That was -- this was the vice president that nobody missed.
D. CHENEY: Right.
L. CHENEY: I don't think Dick will be a vice president that nobody would miss should he go fishing for a few weeks or something like that. But I look forward to this, Larry. It's a big challenge.
KING: Are you going to continue writing, by the way, Lynne?
L. CHENEY: Well, yes. That's just my life, and I do think it's important, even when you're involved in a big public effort and when your spouse holds public office, to have some little part of your life that is yours and yours alone. And I look forward to maintaining that.
KING: And Dick, since the president picked you after you were going to head his selection committee, do you think Al Gore ought to pick Warren Christopher?
D. CHENEY: Well, he could do a lot worse and he may well.
KING: Wouldn't that be interesting? The two guys who were doing the selecting are running.
Thank you both very much. We'll see you in Philadelphia.
L. CHENEY: Thanks, Larry.
D. CHENEY: Thank you, Larry. It's great to see you again.
KING: Good seeing you and good health. Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, they'll be in Casper, Wyoming with Governor Bush tomorrow, the home town of both Cheneys. They'll be at the school that both attended, and then after some various private work, on the way to Philadelphia, where we'll be as well.
Tomorrow night, nine women of United States Senate, all of them here on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks for joining us. For the Cheneys and yours truly, good night. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
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