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Text: Richard B. Cheney on NBC's 'Nightly News'
Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Following is the transcript of Richard B. Cheney's interview with Tom Brokaw on NBC's "Nightly News."

TOM BROKAW: It's time now for the vice presidential candidate on the Republican side, the man in charge of putting together what they hope will be a new Bush administration. That's Dick Cheney, of course, the former secretary of defense.

Mr. Secretary, welcome first of all.

You have been saying, and so has your old friend Jim Baker, down in Florida, that speed is of the essence here, to get on with the transition. And yet the Bush legal team today were making requests that would only delay what is a legally entitled contest of this election, by asking for more ballots to be counted.

How do you square the two of those?

RICHARD B. CHENEY: Well, I think what's at stake in Florida, Tom, is the fact that we've had a certified result, after an enormous amount of effort in terms of counts and recounts, and sometimes three and four counts, to the presidential election. And what's unprecedented here is the fact that the Gore team has now come in and decided they were going to try to overturn in court a certified presidential election. That's never happened before.

We indicated earlier this week that if they were to drop those legal proceedings, obviously we'd have no interest in continuing them. But we really have not choice at this point and our lawyers are required to go in to court and make the best case they can to point out the weaknesses in the Democratic argument.

BROKAW: But why not speed the process instead of drag it out?

CHENEY: Well, if you speed the process, it's already been resolved in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, in accordance with the decisions by the Florida Supreme Court, that intervened and added an extra 12 days for the final count.

We're getting to the point now, though, where we think it's important to move on. We do have a certified result. We think it's important for us to begin the transition. We've already used up 30 percent of the time that's available for a transition. And it's very important for us to begin to put together the next government.

BROKAW: Mr. Secretary, if the heavily Republican Florida legislature gets involved in this, and elects the slate of electors for the state of Florida, and that bill is signed, as he has indicated that he will, by Jeb Bush, the brother of your presidential candidate, won't that just simply politicize this entire affair and won't that make it very questionable as you try to take office on January 20 in the eyes of the American public?

CHENEY: Well, Tom, there are a lot of ifs strung together there. That's a pretty hypothetical question. We really believe that the outcome has been determined and we're optimistic that in the final analysis, both with respect to the U.S. Supreme Court and the proceedings in Florida, that it will be very clear that we have a result that George W. Bush did win the election in Florida and will be the next president of the United States.

BROKAW: But it's not hypothetical to say that the Florida legislature might, in fact, elect that slate. They're already talking about that and the governor tonight, just in this broadcast, said that he would sign the bill.

CHENEY: They are talking about it. If you go back and look at the Constitution, it's very clear, under Article II, that the proceedings for selecting electors rests with the state legislature. And so they're looking at it I'm sure, and assessing their responsibilities.

I don't have any control over the Florida state legislature, but it seems to me it would be inappropriate for them not to at least review what their responsibilities are in light of potential developments.

BROKAW: Mr. Secretary, I have known you for a long time, almost 30 years at this point, in your public and private life. You have never held any secrets back from anyone. Why not release all of your medical records, if not to the general press, at least to the medical press, which does include many very qualified physicians?

CHENEY: Well, what I have done, Tom, is make a great deal of information available on my health situation. Remember what we've done here. I have had the physicians that treated me were available just this past week. They held two briefings as a matter of fact last Wednesday afternoon.

These are men who are of impeccable integrity, men who know very well my situation. They've reviewed all the technical aspects of it, made judgments which they've made available to the public, and they've been available to the press to answer questions.

If you just dump a bunch of data out there, frankly, I think most people in the press probably wouldn't understand the technical aspects of it. I'd rather have acknowledged professionals who know what they're doing be the judges of the state of my health. And that's exactly what we have done.

BROKAW: But can't you understand why reporters might take this to independent medical experts and let them make an evaluation?

CHENEY: Well, I think these men are certainly qualified and they're clearly independent. One is the head of the cardiac program, cath program at GW. The other is head of the internal medicine division. They are very competent men, where they have consulted outside experts like Denton Cooley from Houston. So I'm very comfortable that we've done a thorough job of providing good solid, reliable information that people can count on and have confidence in.

BROKAW: Mr. Secretary, Governor Bush is down at the ranch. You seem to be doing all of the work. A Democratic operative said today that Dick Cheney needs a patient's bill of rights.


CHENEY: Well, I saw that; that was a funny line. But I'm headed to the ranch tomorrow myself. I'm going to take Colin Powell down with me and we look forward to spending a day with the governor down in Crawford, Texas.

BROKAW: Thank you very much.

CHENEY: Thank you.

BROKAW: Former secretary of defense, Dick Cheney, vice presidential candidate, and he hopes the next vice president of the United States.

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