Transcription – Richard Cheney Interview

Q: One of the things that characterized both of your campaigns — both 2000 and 2004 — is I think to an unusual degree for candidates the close involvement of your family as not just family but as campaign aides in various ways. Can you talk about that?

CHENEY: Sure. Both — Lynn was very active — out on the road some herself. There were times when she would go off with — I think she traveled with Laura a time or two. [00:34:00] I can remember there was an airplane trip someplace where they lost the oxygen in the airplane and had to make an emergency landing. So there were occasions where she was out by herself or traveled with me a lot. Daughter Liz who was on maternity leave then — she’d just had her third child. She was somebody that I used in the VP search process. She’s an attorney — University of Chicago — experienced and had done a couple of tours for the State Department and I didn’t know anybody I trusted more in terms of maintaining the confidentiality of the proceedings. We also needed some place to keep all of our sensitive papers. When you’re collecting all of the — I don’t want to say dirt — but all of the sensitive information on tax policy, health, and everything else — tax returns, you’ve got to have some place to put the material that you gather up for review [00:35:00] so the president can make his decision. You don’t want to take it to headquarters. Headquarters is chockablock full of people who when they’re not evil, or malicious; they’re just all caught up in the campaign. The press is all over the place. It’s not a place to maintain secure documents. So we ended up keeping them in Liz’s house out in McLean locked in a filing cabinet in the basement on the theory that nobody would think to look at a house in McLean in the basement for those kinds of papers.

She helped me put together the search itself. I also used her for debate prep. She couldn’t travel all that much because she had small children especially a young baby — our granddaughter, Grace. But things like debate prep she would — I remember I said, “Liz, you’re in charge of debate prep.” And so away she went. She took it. I couldn’t think of anybody better, [00:36:00] more reliable, more broader gauge. The time since I left office I’ve written two books and she was my coauthor and collaborator on both of those books. So it was a — if I had to look at all the people that were available, Liz was far and away the best. She didn’t get paid for it — worked as a volunteer. Daughter Mary became my aide-de-camp, if you will — the body person who made sure I had a copy of my speech for the next stop, that I knew where I was, that I didn’t go to Jacksonville and say how good it was to be back here in Tallahassee for example. Made the trains run on time from the standpoint of me personally — our luggage got taken care of — all those things that when you’re the candidate you need somebody to look after all of those kinds of things. And in 2000 Mary did that. And then later on when we came back in 2004, I put her in charge of all aspects [00:37:00] of the presidential — the vice presidential campaign as part of the overall presidential campaign. Again she had the background and the experience, knew me, and they had a great time. They were the right age so we have a situation today when the four of us get together — my wife and my two daughters, we often end up telling old war stories about campaigning. We did six statewide campaigns in Wyoming. And the kids had been very young then but played a role — then two national campaigns. I never lost when my name was on the ballot so something worked and they had a lot to do with it. It was — a lot of people talk about the strain on a family when you go through one of those campaign situations. There are stressful things that happen and can create problems [00:38:00] but I always felt from my standpoint the national campaigns were a very important part of my life and I wanted to share it with the family and the four of us together would roll up our sleeves and it was a family enterprise and they got to travel as much as I did, met all kinds of interesting people, were involved in all aspects of the campaign from travel and schedule to debates and all the rest of it. It was the right thing to do.

Q: Mary in her book writes about a certain apprehension in 2000 that she would become a story — she and her partner. In 2004 she writes about having a crisis of conscience when President Bush endorsed the marriage amendment to the Constitution in the State of the Union. Can you comment on that? [00:39:00]

CHENEY: Yeah. It was difficult — not only surprising. I remember the president at one point — probably at one of our lunches which we did weekly, where he mentioned that he was going to support the Constitutional amendment that in effect would outlaw same-sex marriage and he knew that I disagreed with that. This would have been before the ’04 campaign. The question had come up in 2000 in the debate when I was asked — trying to remember, oh, I guess it was Bernie Shaw, the debate moderator in 2000, where the issue had come up and I had basically given my view that freedom means freedom for everybody and people ought to be free to enter [00:40:00] into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. A separate question as to what kind of status — legal status it had and historically that had been determined by the States. I thought that was appropriate that there was no need for federal legislation. He knew my view differed from his. He gave me a heads-up about it. I think he felt a little more uncomfortable about it than I did. Mary had to make her own decision. She was obviously upset about it. On the other hand, Mary’s basically a conservative Republican in her views so she swallowed hard and kept on trucking. You don’t agree with candidates all the time and I think that’s the way she responded to it.

It was interesting in ’04 because the Kerry camp obviously decided to try to use it to score points in the debate. In my debate with Edwards, he brought it up. [00:41:00] He was a little bit more smooth than Kerry was later on but that’s when I made my, reiterated my earlier statement. But when Kerry did it, it was nasty. It was — the Edwards statement wasn’t welcome either but one of the things I emphasized was keeping my cool and not losing my temper on the stage which I thought was important with Edwards. When Kerry brought it up with Bush, he talked about, as I recall, he said that Mary was a lesbian and had a partner he was sure that we loved her and so forth — it was really, very very heavy-handed and very — very much, I thought, grossly inappropriate in terms of trying to use [00:42:00] a child’s sexual orientation as some kind of issue in the campaign. It was doubly disturbing when his campaign manager came out afterwards and in an interview said Mary was fair game. The result of that, first of all, was a very angry mother. I was scheduled — we had a rally we were doing while that debate was being held in ’04 between Kerry — the last debate between Kerry and Bush. I was scheduled to speak to a crowd — we were in a hotel or someplace where we watched — had a debate watching party and then I was going to speak. I couldn’t get to the microphone fast enough. Lynn got there before me. She really unloaded and it clearly was a major gaffe on their part. It got us a bump in the polls and in the family we always refer to it since then as the ‘Mary Cheney Bounce’. [00:43:00]