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Text: Dick Cheney on CNN's 'Larry King Live'
Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Following is the transcript of Richard B. Cheney's appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live."

LARRY KING: We begin with Dick Cheney, at our studios in Washington. It's his second appearance within a week. He was with us the night of his heart attack, and the angioplasty and subsequent stent.

So, obvious, Dick, how you feeling?

RICHARD B. CHENEY: Feel good, Larry. I'm back at work full time, with my doctor's full approval. The procedure, as you know, is a good one when it works. And it worked very well in my case.

KING: We've gone through the same--we're in the same club, so to speak...

CHENEY: We are.

KING: ... for the benefit of those who don't know it.

Dick, how do you want to be called? Do you want to be called secretary? Do you want to be called vice president-elect? Is that presumptuous?

CHENEY: Dick's fine, Larry.

KING: Do you feel like vice president-elect?

CHENEY: Well, we're getting pretty close, but we've been still operating, clearly, on the assumption that while we believe the race is over, in the sense that it's been certified, we've been declared, formally, the victors in Florida, and now, therefore, in the Electoral College, Al Gore hasn't conceded yet. We hope this will get wrapped up pretty soon. But we're continuing to operate as we were before, except, of course, we've now begun the transition process.

KING: Honestly, Dick, if you had been on a ticket that, say, one the popular vote by over 300,000, and had questions about Florida, would you not be doing the same thing that the Gore team is doing?

CHENEY: Well, certainly the recount was appropriate and called for, when the race was that close in Florida. Recounts are provided for under state law. It's automatic, and we certainly would have done that.

What's unique now, about the current circumstances, is having gone through the count, having gone through the recount, having had the Supreme Court involve itself in Florida and add another 12 days to the process, having done the manual recounts, and now, finally having been certified, with the election over, officially, from the standpoint of Florida state law and state authorities, now Vice President Gore is coming back around and seeking to overturn the results of a certified election--presidential election in the courts. That's never happened before. That's really precedent setting. And we think it's unfortunate ...

KING: The question was, you would not--in other words, if reversed, you would not do what he's doing.

CHENEY: We would not, I believe, be in the situation he's in today, where we were trying to use the courts to overturn an election that has already been certified.

As long as there was doubt about the count, as long as state law required an automatic recount, given an election this close, clearly some reassessment and recount was totally appropriate. But we've gone far beyond that now. In effect, the vice president is asking the courts to intervene, and to direct the election authorities--and the court to direct the election authorities in Florida to recount ballots that have already been looked at, that have already been counted, try to find some way to interpret an additional number of those as Gore votes. And we don't think that's at all appropriate. We think it's totally unfair, in terms of trying to resolve a presidential election that way. And we really think it's time to get on with the business of governing.

KING: So, you're saying, in all fairness, you think the vice president should concede.

CHENEY: If I were in his position, that's what I'd do. I'm clearly not in his position. He's made the decision that he wants to continue with the legal contest, by taking the whole matter to court. And that leaves us, really, with no choice but to proceed with our own legal options, which we're doing.

KING: Did he say anything today--either Sunday night or today that impressed you in any way?

CHENEY: Well, I...

KING: I mean Monday night, and then today.

CHENEY: Clearly I disagree with him, Larry. I find this repeated mantra that somehow we have to, quote, "count all the votes," that there are votes that have not been counted, simply is not accurate.

Every single vote in Florida has been counted. Every single vote in Florida has been recounted. Now, there are some that were not marked for president, and therefore didn't register on the machines, but that's not at all unusual in Florida. They've focused in on the 10,000 votes in Miami-Dade County that supposedly are unmarked. But there are some 34 counties in Florida that have a larger percentage of unmarked ballots for president than those in Dade County.

If you go across this country, you'll find a large number of ballots cast by voters who go in, don't want to decide between the two candidates, decide not to vote for president, but the vote for senator, for governor, for congressman and on down the ballot. That has happened all across the country.

What he wants to do now is go back in, in one heavily Democratic area--two counties--and direct these election supervisors, most of whom are Democrats, who have already made their own independent decisions to redo the whole process in a manner that will favor him. And that's clearly inappropriate.

KING: How were you asked to head the transition team? Did the governor himself ask you?

CHENEY: He did. This is--if you go back to the subjects we discussed at the time that he asked me to get on the ticket, it was very much along the lines that he clearly wasn't picking me so that we could carry the state of Wyoming. I think Wyoming actually gave us the highest percentage of any state in the nation.

But it was because of my background and experience and his desire to have me involved in the process of helping him govern, of becoming part of the team he wants to establish to run his administration.

And...

KING: What did you make of President Clinton's idea of having some sort of group organization to aid in transition with whoever asks it, but not providing finances yet, or office space?

CHENEY: It's, I suppose, something useful to do he wants to do it that way. I'm sure that the officials that have been designated in the executive order will be prepared to help when their given the go-ahead to do that. But of course, up till now the position of the administration has been that the contest is not yet to the point where they're prepared to release the funds Congress has appropriated to support the transition. That really leaves us with no choice but to move forward on our own.

Under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, provision is made to raise money from private sources in order to support these transition activities and that's the route we decided to take. We've already used up, with the recount process in Florida, the legal challenges, some 30 percent of the available time for the transition. We can't afford to wait any longer.

KING: We'll ask about that process and other things, and then we'll meet Warren Christopher.

Back with more of Dick Cheney, the former secretary and vice presidential nominee of his party, and maybe vice president-elect.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Dick Cheney.

In this process, the way the whole weird--this thing has been--do you offer positions, or do you say, "If we do it, will you take it?"

CHENEY: Well, I think the way we phrased it sometimes is, "Don't give up your day job yet."

(LAUGHTER)

We're actively involved in assembling the transition team, in assembling a White House team and beginning the process, as well, of selecting Cabinet members.

We've not yet approached any Cabinet member in the sense in terms of actually finally closing the deal to the point where we're ready to announce. But we are actively involved in that process.

The governor will make those decisions. He looks to me and to Clay Johnson, who's been heading the transition planning in Austin, as well as Andy Card, who's been announced as the prospective chief of staff of the White House, to begin to bring him options and discuss with him options and possibilities. But we're not signing any contracts yet I guess would be the way to put it, Larry.

KING: Can you say, Dick, that some one or maybe two Democrats will be in the Cabinet?

CHENEY: The final decisions have not really--have not been made yet, although I would expect that there's a real possibility that there will be members of the other political faith in the Cabinet. The governor has emphasized his desire to reach out across the country, to reach to all of the various groups in our society, to have a Cabinet and an administration that's diverse, that represents a wide variety of thinking, people that are prepared to come together and work together on a bipartisan basis to govern the nation.

So I'm--would be certainly expecting that there will be members of the other party in the administration.

KING: How do you think it's all going to play out, Dick, from the standpoint of working for the next four years? Let's say that Bush is president. There's a 50-50 Senate let's say if the woman prevails in Washington. You would break a tie in the Senate. Can much happen? Will there be a lot of bitter anger, left over anger? What's it going to be like?

CHENEY: Well, I hope not Larry. I hope that once we get this process behind us, we will be able to move forward and unite the nation. I think the country will rally round.

Just before I came here tonight I was an a fascinating event hosted by Bill Cohen, who is currently the Republican secretary of defense in the Democratic administration. He had a number of former secretaries of defense there, to honor Doc Cook (ph). A lot of people don't know who Doc Cook (ph) is, but Doc Cook (ph) has been the director of administration in the Pentagon now since the late 1950s. He has worked under 15 secretaries of defense. He is a man who's revered and respected by all of us, regardless of our political backgrounds and experience--Republican, Democrat alike.

He's the kind of career professional who really makes the government work. And we were able to get together tonight on strictly a social function. Some of us had been on opposite sides in the recent campaign. But nonetheless, have a very pleasant evening; honor and respect one another's service, and then get on with the business at hand.

So I think the traditions of our democracy are very strong. I think there's no reason in the world why once this is resolved clearly and there is no doubt in anybody's mind about the president-elect is, that the country will rally around and that we will be able to work together for the good of the country.

I had an experience years ago working for the governor of Wisconsin, where we had an evenly divided state legislature. It was actually there when I think it was 49-51 and we got more done during that session because everybody had to pull together, than we did when one party controlled the other by about a two-to-one margin.

KING: A couple of other quick things. There have been some statements in the press--I think one, a doctor wrote an article in the New York Times--said you weren't or the hospital was not forthcoming with your total health information. How do you respond to that?

CHENEY: Well, I, being on this side of the table, feel that there isn't much about my physical capabilities and history that aren't known. I've seen my coronary arteries diagramed on the front page of major newspapers all over America.

So we've been I think very forthcoming. I went through an extensive checkup with my doctors before I signed on to be Governor Bush's running mate. We actually went outside and got additional experts--Denton Cooley (ph), for example was consulted extensively. There was a more thorough scrub on my medical history than on any of the other candidates I think who were considered for vice president, probably in either party this year.

And with his latest incident, we've been very forthright.

We held two press briefings the afternoon of the procedure, including one that involved the cardiologist who actually did the procedure. We answered a lot of questions, provided a lot of information and data.

And so I think we have been very forthcoming. There may be a few people out there who still want to look at certain parts of my anatomy we've not yet revealed. But I'm going to keep part of it private.

KING: I'll leave part of that out.

CHENEY: All right.

KING: And can you travel extensively, because vice presidents are often asked to do that?

CHENEY: I can. I think, probably, one of the things that may affect my travel schedule in the prospective administration is the fact the Senate is evenly divided. And, of course, the vice president presides as the president of the Senate, and casts the tie-breaking vote when there are ties between the two parties. So, I could end up having to spend a lot of time in the U.S. Senate, as vice president, rather than traveling the world, attending funerals of foreign leaders.

KING: Thanks, Dick. Always good seeing you. And glad to see you up and around.

CHENEY: Good to see you, Larry. And thanks again for having us.

KING: Thank you.


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