Text: Dick Cheney on CNN's 'Larry
Tuesday, November 28, 2000
Following is the transcript of Richard B. Cheney's appearance on CNN's "Larry
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
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
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.
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.
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."
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,
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
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
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
KING: Thanks, Dick. Always good seeing you. And glad to see you up
CHENEY: Good to see you, Larry. And thanks again for having us.
KING: Thank you.