Text: Cheney Calls on Gore to Concede
Sunday, December 3, 2000
Following is the
transcript of Republican vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney's interview
on NBC's "Meet the Press."
TIM RUSSERT: And with us now, the Republican vice presidential candidate
Dick Cheney. Welcome to "Meet the Press."
RICHARD CHENEY: Good morning, Tim.
RUSSERT: You just heard the speaker of the House of the Florida legislature.
Would you encourage the legislature to go forward and select a slate of electors
pledged to George W. Bush who would cast their votes for Governor Bush, in case
there's still legal turmoil in Florida?
CHENEY: Well, Tim, we clearly don't control the Florida legislature,
I think as demonstrated by the fact that the brief they filed with the U.S.
Supreme Court took a somewhat different tack than the one we took.
They do have a constitutional obligation and responsibility that I think Speaker
Feeney articulated very clearly. They've got to take whatever steps they think
are appropriate in terms of carrying out those responsibilities, and I think
they're doing that.
But I'm not in a position to be able to predict what the final outcome is likely
to be there, nor to say, you know, you should do A, B, C or D. Those are decisions
they'll have to make as independent actors in this drama that now we're all
RUSSERT: He seemed to suggest that if the Florida Supreme Court declared
Al Gore the winner, it wouldn't be relevant to his thinking, that he would obey
the U.S. Supreme Court, but that the Florida legislature is paramount to the
Florida Supreme Court. What would that mean for the legitimacy of your administration
if you won by electors cast by the Florida legislature, rather than those approved
by a Supreme Court of Florida?
CHENEY: Well, let's remember what's already happened here. There are
electors that have been selected. There has been a count and a recount and a
certification. The electoral process has been followed, the laws of Florida
have been followed. The Supreme Court intervened, added 12 days to the period
of time; we went through that whole process, and we still emerged as the certified
winners of the Florida election. And I don't see anything that's going to change
Now, Al Gore has decided to go back in and use the courts to try to overturn
this certified presidential election, first time that's ever happened in history.
I see the legislature, in effect saying, look, here we are nearly a month after
the election. We still don't have a concession from Vice President Gore. The
matter's still in the courts, being debated, and they could end up on December
12 having to act under their obligations and responsibilities under the U.S.
RUSSERT: But the U.S. Supreme Court could say that Al Gore is right,
there should have been a manual recount, and the circuit court in Florida could
say count those 10,000 votes in Miami-Dade, and the judge in Seminole County
could say those 15,000 absentee ballots shouldn't count because the applications
were incorrect, and you would have a situation where the Florida Supreme Court
will say Gore won, and the Florida legislature say, no, Bush won, and you have
two sets of electors come to Washington.
CHENEY: Tim, I mean, you know, it could snow in Miami tomorrow too.
These are all hypotheticals. What we have to deal with are the facts. The facts
are that we've been through this very long and involved process. We've followed
the law: the statutes of the state of Florida, the Supreme Court of Florida.
The whole electoral process has been followed very, very carefully here, and
the conclusion is that George W. Bush won the Florida election. And we have
been certified the winners.
Now, Al Gore's back in court trying to overturn that. We're in arguing our
side of the case, but to predict, you know, if this, if this, if this, then
that, if we've learned anything in the last month it is, we ought to be very
careful about making those kinds of predictions.
RUSSERT: The Miami Herald, front page story today: ``What if the vote
were flawless, without hanging chads, voter mishaps, Gore would have had edge.''
The Miami Herald calculates Gore would have won by 23,000 votes if all those
dimpled ballots and swinging chads were counted on his behalf. The thesis of
the story that more people went to the polls in Florida with the intent of voting
for Al Gore than the intent of voting for George Bush.
CHENEY: There's a process by which we cast ballots, count ballots, make
decisions, and that process has gone forward. I have not seen the article, so
I don't know what it argues, but the notion that somehow we had all of these
people vote, or intended to vote, and that their vote somehow didn't get registered,
I think is--I just don't think it's valid, but it's being tested in court anyway.
If we're going to go down that road, why don't we say, look, NBC and the other
networks made an early call on Election Night, decided that Al Gore had carried
Florida, and announced it before the polls closed, and thousands of Republicans
in the panhandle of Florida who would have otherwise cast their votes for George
W. Bush and myself stayed home because...
RUSSERT: Can you prove that?
CHENEY: Well, I know that you guys announced the result before the polls
RUSSERT: But can you prove that thousands of Republicans stayed home?
CHENEY: There's been statistical analysis that's just as valid as the
statistical analysis in The Miami Herald this morning. What we have is we've
had votes. They've been cast. There's a process for counting, a process for
recounting, a process for certification. We've been through that process. And
we now ought to get on with the business of putting together the new government.
RUSSERT: Why not agree to a statewide hand recount overseen by former
President Ford and former President Carter, so that once and for all you can
get a clear, honest statewide count and people can--and both campaigns agree
to it--and then there is legitimacy to whoever wins?
CHENEY: Well, let's see. What are we going to do with the hanging chads,
the dimpled chads, the intent, devising, trying to devise?
There are no clear standards for how that ought to be handled. If you go look
at what happened in Broward County: There's a brief I just happened to read
in the last day or two, that we filed with respect to the Broward County recount,
where they changed their standard after they started the counting process, where
the three individual supervisors used different standards in terms of evaluating
the so-called dimpled chads.
It's virtually impossible to have an objective process for undertaking that
kind of overall statewide recount. We think the right answer is that, in fact,
the ballots have been counted and recounted and in some cases counted three
and four times, and the results have been certified in accordance with Florida
state law. Let's get on with it.
RUSSERT: Do you think Al Gore is a sore loser?
CHENEY: I don't want to get personal about Al Gore. He is, I think I
understand it, I think all of us understand how difficult this is for him. With
the enormous investment he made in the campaign, it would be hard for anybody
to go through that process.
I do think it's time for him to concede. So far he's chosen not to do that,
to pursue other avenues, and clearly that's his prerogative. But I think long
term, I think history would regard him in a better light if he were to bring
this to a close in the very near future.
RUSSERT: Three times in our history, 1824 with John Quincy Adams, 1876
with Rutherford B. Hayes, 1888 with Benjamin Harrison, we've had presidents
who lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College. All three were one-term
presidents. And, in fact, Rutherford Hayes was called ``His Fraudulency,'' because
of the discussion, debate that went on post-election as to who should win the
electors from Florida, ironically.
How concerned are you that if you do win, that your presidency will never have
a fair chance, and it will be destined, like the other three who lost the popular
vote, to simply one term and a very ineffective four years.
CHENEY: Well, but I can recall some other presidents, Thomas Jefferson,
who emerged from a very complicated, convoluted process--some 36 ballots, I
believe, in the House of Representatives before the decision was finally made
that he had won the presidency--an enormously successful president.
So I think there's evidence on both sides, Tim. It will be up to what we do
with it. It'll be obviously a challenge in part to how well we govern, to our
ability to build bridges to the opposition, whether the country will come together.
I think the prognosis is pretty good, because I don't believe the country is
deeply divided. I think this is a time of relative peace and prosperity in America,
that we should be able to pull together. We don't have the kinds of deep divisions
that times in the past and centuries past have been such an important part,
if you will, of dividing the nation, North and South, over the slavery issue.
Or the kinds of issues that have been historically very, very difficult for
us to deal with as a nation.
We are united as a people. We are the most powerful nation on earth. We've
got phenomenal success for the last 200 years and we can build on that and move
forward. But it's going to be hard, difficult to do, but I think the notion
that somehow it's doomed to difficulty, or that the next administration is bound
to be only a one-term administration, I don't think that's a valid judgment.
I don't think anybody can make that forecast.
RUSSERT: Governor Bush and you campaigned on a platform of a $1.3 trillion
tax cut. Now that the Senate is 50-50, Democrats-Republicans, and the Republicans
control the House by eight or nine votes, won't you have to scale down your
tax cut in order to pass it?
CHENEY: Well, I would think, clearly, you're going to have to work very
hard with a 50-50 Senate. I could end up living on Capitol Hill as the vice
RUSSERT: Casting the tie-breaking vote.
CHENEY: ... tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate.
But circumstances have changed, too. There's growing evidence out there, Tim,
that the economy is slowing down. We're seeing it in automobile sales and a
lot of other areas, earnings falling off for corporations. And we may well be
on the front edge of a recession here.
And I would hope that would change people's calculations, with respect to the
wisdom of the kind of tax cut that Governor Bush has recommended. We do, in
fact, need to take into account those economic circumstances.
RUSSERT: You think we're on the front edge of a recession?
CHENEY: I think so. Now, I'm not an economist. I just follow it enough
to know and to see out there that there is growing evidence that the economy
is slowing down. And I would think that the kinds of tax changes we recommended--that
Governor Bush recommended, especially in terms of reducing marginal rates, for
example--are, in fact, exactly what needs to be done with respect to providing
the kind of stimulus to ensure the resumption of long-term economic growth.
RUSSERT: But, in reality, with a 50-50 Senate and a close, close, small
majority in the House, you're going to have to have a moderate, mainstream,
centrist governance, aren't you?
CHENEY: Oh, I think so.
RUSSERT: Much more than the conservative principles that you adhere
to and Tom DeLay or Dick Armey. Are you going to be working--sitting on Tom
DeLay and Dick Armey trying to keep them in place?
CHENEY: They're both good friends of mine. I served with them in the
Congress when I was the whip briefly in the House of Representatives. Tom was
going to be my chief deputy whip. Dick Armey has been my congressman while I
was in Texas for the last five years. Dick Gephardt's a good friend. I've known
Dick--we cam together to Congress about the same time. So, it's entirely possible.
I worked years ago, Tim, for the governor of Wisconsin under two circumstances.
Under one circumstance, we had two-thirds control of the legislature. In the
next session, it was 50-50. Fifty-fifty, we got a lot more done, because there
was much more discipline, because everybody had to work together. That was the
only way anything...
RUSSERT: And low expectations?
CHENEY: And low expectations. But I think there's no reason in the world
why we can't do exactly what Governor Bush campaigned on, and that the very
closeness of the ballots in the Congress will, in fact, be a spur to cooperation
RUSSERT: But true conservatives out there might be a little disappointed
because, in order to get someone on the Supreme Court, for example, they have
to be confirmed by the Senate. You're going to have to stay to the center.
CHENEY: Well, I can assure my conservative friends that there'll be
a strong conservative voice in the counsels of the administration. But in the
final analysis, Governor Bush will make those decisions. I think he's had an
excellent track record in Texas. He's been very good at achieving worthy objectives
by bringing people together, even when the other party controlled both houses
of the legislature. And there's no reason in the world why we can't do that
RUSSERT: Trent Lott, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, and
Speaker Hastert were in Texas yesterday. Lott refers to Governor Bush as President-elect
Bush. Should the country?
CHENEY: Well, we're getting close to that moment. Governor Bush, at
this point, still prefers Governor Bush, and that's the way we're referring
to him and that he's asked the staff to address him. We have not yet crossed
the Rubicon, so to speak, to the point where we feel comfortable using the other
By the way, did you notice the feather in Trent's hat yesterday?
RUSSERT: Quite impressive.
CHENEY: Mississippi cowboy.
RUSSERT: When will you make appointments to the cabinet, secretary of
state, attorney general, secretary of defense?
CHENEY: As soon as possible. We've spent a lot of time. We spent six
hours with General Powell this past week.
RUSSERT: He's going to be secretary of state?
CHENEY: Well, we haven't made any announcement yet, but he, clearly,
is a man we're consulting with extensively on all of these issues. We spent
a lot of time yesterday with Speaker Hastert and Leader Lott on a lot of the
same questions. Governor Bush is spending a big chunk of his time on all these
We have not yet set a timetable in terms of an announcement. Right now, it
has more to do with making decisions and getting people signed on and committed,
rather than anything else, in terms of pacing the timing. But I would expect
that certainly within the next couple of weeks we'll be able to start making
RUSSERT: You'll have some well-known Democrats in the cabinet?
CHENEY: We are casting the net very broadly. And Governor Bush has given
us directions to do exactly that, to look at--he wants a cabinet that represents
the best in America...
RUSSERT: So blacks, women, Hispanics, all will be represented?
CHENEY: ... Is diverse in every sense of the word, politically and in
terms of ethnic background and experiences. Those are all valuable commodities
and dimensions that he wants us to focus on, and that's exactly what we're doing.
RUSSERT: Let me turn to your health. November 22, you had a heart attack,
as you well know, better than I do. Governor Bush appeared on television at
noon, and this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): It turns out that subsequent tests, blood tests
and the initial EKG, showed that he had no heart attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: Now, this is two hours after you had undergone surgery to open
up an artery--people at the hospital, your doctors knowing full well that you
had a heart attack. Why would the governor tell the nation something wrong?
CHENEY: But let's remember, the governor's in Texas. When I went into
the hospital that morning--walked in under my own steam, by the way Tim. The
heart attack label is appropriate in a technical sense, but as heart attacks
go, it was not a big deal.
RUSSERT: But a fourth heart attack's always of concern.
CHENEY: Always of concern, that's why I went to the hospital. But the
early tests in terms of the electrocardiogram, enzyme levels, and so forth,
showed no change. I talked to the governor on the telephone and that's the information
he had from me during the course of the day.
After that, I went in and undergo the angiogram, which is a decision we made
after I talked to the governor. Doctors recommended it. We didn't know for sure
whether there was a problem, but it was worth going to check out, it had been
several years since I had the full-up (ph) angiogram, so we went in.
We discovered while I was in there that there was, in fact, a narrowing in
one the branch arteries. That's when they went in and put the stent in. And
I did not know at that time even that there'd been any change in the enzyme
levels, and we were really focused on it cause we're in the room doing the procedure.
It wasn't until later that afternoon that I became aware, for example, of it.
RUSSERT: So you insist there was no intentional attempt to mislead the
CHENEY: Absolutely not. And we had sent the doctors out twice that afternoon
to brief--to make sure that everybody understood what...
RUSSERT: The first time they said there wasn't any heart attack.
CHENEY: Well, that's what was the a--they didn't say there was no heart
attack, they said there's been an elevation in the enzyme levels, which is the
RUSSERT: They came out at 4:45 to clarify.
CHENEY: To use the exact same words so nobody can say we misled anybody.
RUSSERT: In July when you were on this program, I talked to you about
your bypass in 1988, and after which time you served effectively as secretary
of defense, I might add. And it's eerie, it's almost prescient, what you talked
about. Let's just watch that for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: Bypasses usually last 10 to 12 years. Will you be in need of
another one soon?
CHENEY: Well, that used to be fairly standard guidance. If you can manage
your disease properly, which is much more feasible today, than that either extends
the time before you have to do it again or obviates it altogether.
There are other options available like stents, for example, that weren't around
10 years ago, where you go in and do a catheterization and insert a stent in
the artery to keep it open. So, there are a lot of possibilities like that.
With luck, I'll never need anything else. But, if I did at some point, one of
those procedures is a possibly. But obviously if I thought that was imminent,
I wouldn't be here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: You called it.
CHENEY: I said stent procedure was possible. I'm delighted the technology's
there. What they were able to do for me is something that would have been almost
impossible ten years ago.
RUSSERT: But you also said if I thought it was imminent, I wouldn't
be here today. It turned out to be imminent. Should you be here today as vice
president based on your health?
CHENEY: I'm here based on the strong recommendation of my doctors, first-rate
cardiologists and internists who followed my case for years, who would never
advise me to proceed as I am if there was any doubt about my capacity to do
My health is that of a 60-year-old, nearly 60-year-old man. I do have a history
of coronary artery disease, but the angiogram, among other things, showed there'd
been no progression in the artery disease over that last 12-year period of time
except for this one narrowing, which has now been repaired with a stent.
So, if anything Tim, according to the doctors, I'm stronger and healthier now
than I was six months ago because we've gone in and done that procedure.
So, I'm very comfortable with my current circumstances. The doctors have given
me the green light to proceed. If I had any doubts about that, or if they expressed
any doubts or reservations about my capacity to do the job, I would not do it.
RUSSERT: You'd step aside?
RUSSERT: When will this all end? When do you believe that George W.
Bush and Dick CHENEY will be able to say, we are president and vice president-elect?
CHENEY: Well, we're--I think we're getting close. I would hope that
it will get resolved within the next few days. December 12 is a date that a
lot of people are focused on. I think the--hopefully, it'll be over and wrapped
up by then. I would hope it would happen sooner.
We really--from the standpoint of transition, a lot of people do not understand
we're down to only about six weeks left. It is very hard to put together a complete
government for the United States, tougher than it's been because of the complexity
of issues and clearance procedures required. We really, really need to get on
with that as quickly as possible. And we are, I think, rapidly approaching the
point where there will be damage to the nation, at least to the capacity of
the next government to function, if we don't get this resolved shortly.
RUSSERT: You've been extremely visible, leading some to suggest that
Dick CHENEY, in fact is de facto president, and George W. Bush is simply
in the wings, and that you're going to be running the government.
CHENEY: Well, you know, the same people that are saying that are the
ones that criticized him when he picked me last summer because I wasn't from
a big state or I wasn't going to help him in terms of the electoral college.
Now people saying nice things about me. They turn around, they don't give him
He deserves the credit for the fact that I'm here. He's very heavily involved
in all of this. We talk several times a day on the telephone. I think he's going
to be a very effective executive, because he grabs people, puts them on a problem,
gives them their head (ph), and says go solve it, then holds you accountable
for your performance.
It's the way I like to work, and if it's working well, he's the one who deserves
the credit. He's the candidate, he's the man that put together a very successful
national campaign strategy. He's the--I think about to become the president-elect
of the United States, and to the extent that we've had any success at all, George
W. Bush deserves a lot more credit than I do.
RUSSERT: You've introduced two words to the American political lexicon,
RUSSERT: Any comment?
CHENEY: No, no comment, Tim.
RUSSERT: Dick Cheney, we thank you for joining us. Next time you'll
be back, you'll be Dick Cheney or Mr. Vice President.
CHENEY: I hope so.
RUSSERT: Good to see you.
CHENEY: Thank you.