Transcription – Richard Cheney Interview

Q: I was going to say it sounds to me like he might have very well been putting you in charge of the process to come up with somebody who matched your credentials knowing you would fail to do that and then you’d be responsible.

CHENEY: Yeah. I was alleged by some to have manipulated the process. I was the one who was manipulated by the process. I’m glad he did it obviously. I enjoyed the opportunity. It was a very special and unique experience. He was true to his word. I got involved in anything I wanted to get involved in and we obviously had major challenges throughout our eight years in office. I was always pleased and gratified that he’d offered me the job. [00:09:00]

Q: How did you handle that electoral vote problem with both of you being Texas residents?

CHENEY: I changed my residence. I went back to Wyoming. We had a home in Wyoming — had for a long time. To register in Wyoming all I had to do was go home to Wyoming and go down to the county clerk’s office and declare that I was a Wyoming resident and they transferred me over so I could vote in the Wyoming primary.

Q: One of the ways that your candidacy was unique —

CHENEY: One other thing though.

Q: Sure.

CHENEY: There was a lawsuit brought in Texas alleging that I was — that we didn’t meet the requirement — that I didn’t meet the requirements for citizenship in Wyoming — residency in Wyoming. So we actually ended up in court — one decision obviously that the court decided not to intervene. But there was a legal attempt by the Democrats to keep me off the ticket.

Q: The first of several in 2000 involving lawsuits. [00:10:00] So one of the ways that you were unique as a vice presidential candidate is that you had run the process that culminated in your selection. Another way that I think you were unique among vice presidential candidates is that you were coming to a candidacy directly out of several years in the private sector. Your daughter Mary points out in her book about the election — Now It’s My Turn. The elections that she was — that therefore you didn’t have the kind of political staff that typically a vice presidential candidate has when he accepts the nomination. How did you handle that?

CHENEY: Well it was — all the time I was in office I had a press secretary, administrative assistants, advance and so forth. I’ve done a lot of those jobs myself. But after five years at Halliburton, I was chairman and CEO of a major corporation and it’s just a different set of experiences that you look for in staff. What we did basically was [00:11:00] work with campaign headquarters down in Austin and they provided me with some names and people and in fact our staffs were joint to some extent but Kathleen Shanahan was a key hire. She’d worked as I recall in the vice presidential office when 41 was vice president. She was in Florida — working in Florida. That’s where her job or career was. She knew the Bushes. She knew Jeb. She was a good fit. She had a lot of experience. She had all those credentials that I needed and she was great. She became like a third daughter. It was Liz, Mary, and Kathleen. Then we ended up reaching out for some policy people that had been involved with the campaign and came out [00:12:00] and traveled on the road with me. When it came time to do debate prep I used some of the same people in terms of the policies and the issues that had been prepared for the president and his debate. There were other things that I’d been involved in that he had not been involved in that we had to do prep for and so forth. But we cobbled together a team in fairly short order — so a little shaky at first. We had a few foul ups along the way. I always remember when I left Philadelphia we did a train whistle stop through the Midwest which was great — both the president and the president designate our nominee — the ticket campaigned off a train for a few days. And then I went off to my first solo adventure. That was to talk about education in Florida and they’d scheduled me into — [00:13:00] I don’t know if you can hear over the airplane — they had scheduled me into a school in Florida before a group of third graders and I was going to talk about the new scheme we’d come up for special tax exempt bonds that we would be issued to help finance school construction. I’m trying to be a good soldier and this is what campaign headquarters wanted. But I walked in — little kids — nine years old sitting around on the floor and I’ve got this text that would put most people to sleep. I got a similar reaction out of the crowd there. There wasn’t a lot of applause or standing ovation. They didn’t know what the heck was going on. After that I took control that I would do what I was asked to do if I could and thought it made sense — didn’t make sense I wasn’t going to do it. And a speech on financing tax exempt bonds before third graders [00:14:00] about building schools didn’t meet the qualifications.

Q: Mary Cheney also points out in her book that typically vice presidential candidates are used to attack the opposition and usually they’re sent to non-battleground states to kind of rouse the faithful. But your campaign was different. It was a more positive campaign and it took place mostly in battleground.

CHENEY: I think that’s true. We split up which obviously you want to do because you can cover a lot more territory. But we were in a position — we weren’t running against an incumbent but we were running against the vice president. And we also, frankly, part of our strategy was to tie Gore to Clinton as closely as we could because at that point Bill Clinton was carrying a few negatives — you could put it in those terms — after his time in office — [00:15:00] the Monica Lewinsky affair and so forth. So we did everything we could that could tie them together. But it was also — part of the strategy and a lot of this had been decided before I ever got on the ticket. There’d been talk about compassionate conservatives. It was a way to some extent that I think the president and Karl came up with of distinguishing him from the bulk of House Republicans or Congressional Republicans for example. It created a bit of friction on the Hill but it was a way to carve out an identity there focused on the fact that his accomplishments in Texas as governor on “No Child Left Behind” and some of those kinds of issues. We pretty much stuck with that but not entirely. We got down to the convention I gave a different kind of speech [00:16:00] that didn’t quite fit with that strategy. I gave a tougher more of a red meat speech in terms of going after the Democrats at the convention which I enjoyed and was fun to do.

Q: It’s time for them to go.

CHENEY: It’s time for them to go — a line that my wife thought of. It was taken from a Gore speech eight years before. He’d used that line so we appropriated it.