Richard B. Cheney photo

Interview of the Vice President by Matt Lauer of NBC News

June 14, 2008

8:08 A.M. EDT

Q: Mr. Vice President, good morning. I thank you for your time this morning.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, Matt.

Q: Just your general thoughts. I mean, you knew this man as well as anyone. What are your thoughts this morning?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a great tragedy. I was stunned yesterday to learn of Tim's passing. I remember many occasions when we did the show when he would ask me about my health. But he never commented on his own; I was unaware that he had coronary artery disease. We could have compared notes. But it's a tremendous loss.

Q: You know, Bob Bennett, the Washington lawyer, said something. I'm paraphrasing here, Mr. Vice President, but he said all the people in politics knew that if you went on "Meet the Press," there was a chance that you would leave the show a little bloodier than when you arrived. But if you did go on anyway and you did well, boy, could you score points. Is that the way you viewed it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I did. And a couple of other points, I think, need to be made, Matt. One of the great things about "Meet the Press" and the way Tim ran it was that you got an hour sometimes, if you had a big subject like we did in September of '01, where you could devote the whole hour to getting into a subject in depth.

And Tim was never into "gotcha" journalism. He would ask you tough questions, he would remind you of quotes you made previously in other settings or on earlier shows, so you never got away with anything going up vis-à-vis Tim. But the main thing was, it wasn't just politics; it was substance. And the best way to discuss a complex subject under extraordinary circumstances -- which is the situation we faced in September of 2001, just a few days after 9/11 -- was to go on "Meet the Press."

Q: Yeah, I remember that interview vividly. The nation was reeling. I was glued to that. Anything stand out from that interview?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I always, when I think of Tim and think of "Meet the Press," that's the show that always comes to mind. We did it up at Camp David. The President and the national security team were meeting all weekend up at Camp David, planning our response to 9/11. And Tim came up there and we did the show from a facility right next door.

And it was a remarkable moment in American history. There was this tremendous sense, obviously, that something enormously significant had happened on 9/11. And, of course, we had lost 3,000 Americans that morning to the worst terrorist attack in our history. And Tim captured on the show -- and the way he handled it, captured the feeling and the emotion of the moment. But he also gave us a great opportunity to get into the substance of the kind of response that was being considered, analysis of who had done it.

We went back and reminisced to some extent about what had actually happened on the morning of 9/11. So it was -- it was a remarkable moment in my career. But a lot of that was due to Tim and the way he handled the show.

Q: And I know you both came from humble beginnings. And certainly you and Tim never forgot that. He never lost sight of that.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's correct.

Q: Vice President Dick Cheney. I think the roster of people we've had on our program this morning is a great indication of his importance and the fact that he was so well loved. And it's a wonderful tribute.

I again thank you for your time this morning, Mr. Vice President.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's good to talk to you, Matt, and we certainly want to extend our prayers to Tim's family. He was a remarkable individual. We're all better for knowing him. The country and his profession are significantly enhanced by what he contributed.

Q: Thanks again for your time.

END 8:11 A.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, Interview of the Vice President by Matt Lauer of NBC News Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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