The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 21, 2006

Interview of the Vice President by Time Magazine

October 18, 2006

Q Mr. Vice President, we really appreciate your making this time in a very busy season. You've had a very energetic, aggressive campaign schedule. I was interested in how it's different campaigning for House and Senate members, as opposed to campaigning for yourself. And when we were out the other day in Kansas and Louisiana, we noticed you didn't have the grandchildren. That was a little change from 2004.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it is different when you're doing it -- your own name is on the ballot. And of course, I did that, what, I guess six times when I ran in Wyoming, and then twice as Vice President. And I will say that's more fun. I've still got a lot invested in what I'm doing now. But I've done a lot of this over the years. Obviously, when I was in Congress, part of the leadership, I campaigned for colleagues all the time.

After I left the Pentagon in '93, in the '94 cycle, I did a lot of it. But still, it's a chance to get out. It's participating in what I think is one of the unique and distinguishing features of our civilization where we pick our leaders, hold them accountable. And so I've always enjoyed it.

There's the rap on me, occasionally, Cheney doesn't have any fun out on the campaign trail. It's not true. I do enjoy it. And we have oftentimes over the years turned it into a family enterprise. When I ran for Congress the first time was in an RV that my dad drove. Mom cooked. Lynne and I and the girls campaigned.

And when I ran for Vice President twice, it was very much a family enterprise. Daughter Mary was my aide de camp the first time out. Liz did all the debate prep, ran that whole operation for me. Second time around, Mary was in charge of VP operations for the campaign, and Liz did the debate prep again. So it has been an important part of my life, and I've enjoyed it. And I'm enjoying this, although I do look on it as sort of this is the last time I'll go out and do -- what, I think it's 114 campaigns so far.

Q Goodness. And do you miss your grandchildren?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, you don't have them on the campaign trail this time around. Part of that is it's just a lot tougher; they're in school. There was a legitimate excuse to take them out of school when I was on the ballot -- (laughter) -- and it was truly a family enterprise. And we did a lot. They liked to campaign with us.

The other day, as a matter of fact, Liz drove by the house here with the two older girls, Kate and Elizabeth. And they said, let's stop in and see Grandma and Grandpa. And Liz explained, no, we can't, they're out campaigning.

And their response was, what, without us? (Laughter.) They enjoyed very much being a part of it, loved the crowds and rallies, and so forth.

Q Mr. Vice President, you mentioned the investment that you have in this. What do you think a Democratic House would be like? What do you think a Democratic Senate would be like?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't expect that to happen. I'm optimistic that we're going to hold both the House and the Senate. One of the things I do talk about on the campaign trail is the importance of what we've been able to do with tax policy. How our changes in tax policy -- especially in '03 -- stimulated a recovery that's generated 6.6 million new jobs. Just today, the Dow broke through the 12,000 mark, first time ever for the Dow Jones Industrials. I think a lot of that goes back to what we were able to do with cutting taxes on investments, on dividends and cap gains and so forth. All of that is at risk if there were to be a Democratic Congress.

I talk about the fact that Charlie Rangel, for example, has announced that he doesn't think a single one of the Bush tax cuts ought to be extended. The fact is, of course, it's going to take an affirmative act by Congress to extend those cuts. They're going to be sunsetted here. We'll go back to the old rates unless there is action by the Congress. And I think, clearly, if Charlie Rangel were to be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he would put at risk -- because of his beliefs; he just fundamentally disagrees with those tax policies -- he would put at risk some of the best economic policy this nation has seen in a long time. It has produced phenomenal results for the economy.

Q Mr. Vice President, how badly do you think the Mark Foley scandal has hurt your Republicans candidates, House and the Senate?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't think it's hurt our candidates generally. Obviously, it's a terrible situation. I think appropriate action has been taken. Investigations are under way to find out what's happened and so forth. The place where it's likely to have an impact, clearly, would be in Foley's district. He's not running for reelection, and they're trying to work out an arrangement so somebody else can run for that seat. But beyond that, I don't sense that it's the kind of issue that has an impact on Wyoming or Florida -- it clearly does in Florida, but in Wyoming or California or Texas, for example.

Q Mr. Vice President, while you cited the economic record and certainly the people who would applaud this administration for the success, history will probably judge it on its international accomplishments. How do you think -- or how would you like history to judge this presidency or this administration?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- my guess is that the judgment will be very favorable. And I say that primarily because of what we've had to deal with, the fact that we inherited a situation, obviously, where the -- all the planning and preparation for 9/11 was underway, and then 9/11 itself sort of, in effect, has shaped the context within which we've governed. It has been -- 9/11 and the aftermath have really been sort of the dominate feature of the landscape, if you will, that we've had to steer our way through during the course of this administration. And I put that within the broader context of the global war on terror.

We went from a situation where in the '90s I think generally terrorist attacks were looked upon as law enforcement problems. And what 9/11 brought home to everybody was, in fact, we were at war. Our adversaries knew it before we did. They declared war on us back in the '90s, but the U.S. didn't really respond on a strategic level until after 9/11.

And with 9/11, we have been very aggressive in terms of both carrying the fight to the enemy, going after the terrorists, going after the state sponsors of terror, going after those who could conceivably equip the terrorists with deadlier technologies than they've used before. The ultimate threat here isn't 19 guys armed with airliners; it's 19 guys in the middle of one of our cities with a nuclear weapon. That's the ultimate threat we have to deal with these days. And all of that was brought home by 9/11.

I think it also needs to be evaluated in terms of what's happened here at home, and the fact that we have now for more than five years successfully prevented another attack on the homeland. But nobody can promise there won't be another one. It's not that kind of proposition. But there is no question but I think any objective observer will look at it and say, on 9/11 we lost 3,000 people to 19 guys who had box cutters and airline tickets and obviously took us by surprise, took the nation by surprise, demonstrated our vulnerability, if you will.

But since then, in spite the fact that there have been attacks around the world, and that there have been numerous attempts here to mount attacks against the United States, through the measures we've taken -- the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the Patriot Act, the detainee program that we run through the CIA -- all of those things have allowed us to successfully fend off any further attack against the homeland. That's a remarkable achievement.

If you'd have asked in the month after 9/11 what the prospects were for going five years without another attack here at home, I don't think anybody would have been willing to give you very good odds -- expected that there clearly was going to be another attack. So if you put all of that together, I think we've been very successful.

I think if you look at Afghanistan and what it was over five years ago, six years ago, a safe haven for al Qaeda; a location for training camps that trained 20,000 terrorists in the late '90s, that situation has significantly improved -- still got a lot of work to do; still got significant problems there. But the Taliban regime is gone. Karzai is in. There's been democratic elections, a new parliament sworn in, new constitution.

In Iraq, we've made progress, too. It's still very tough going -- without question, but Saddam Hussein is on trial. His government has been taken down. We've had three national elections, a new constitution written. The current government -- which has got a lot of heavy lifting to do -- has only been in power about five months; and so we've still got, say, difficult days ahead. But I think we're far along from where we were, and at the same time, we've been able to successfully defend the homeland against further attacks by al Qaeda. It's a pretty good record.

Q Mr. Vice President, there have been a number of stories about your changing role. Is it shrinking? Is it enlarging? Are you in charge of everything? How has your role in this White House evolved over the past six, seven years? How have your assignments changed?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They haven't really changed that much, I don't believe. It's a unique kind of role, a different kind of role. When you're Vice President, you don't run anything. Basically, I serve as an advisor to the President. I've got some great people working for him. And one of the things that I think is unique about the way we've operated is that my staff operation is pretty thoroughly integrated with that of the West Wing, and the President.

We've worked hard to make certain you don't get the traditional kind of splits that you will between the White House staff and the vice presidential staff. And part of that is because I've made it clear I'm not running for office myself when this is all over with, that I'm there to serve the President, and because we've worked hard to keep the press operation integrated, and the congressional relations operation integrated and so forth, and my people have been an integral part of the White House staff. That's different than the way it's worked in most White Houses.

Over time, I've spent my time on those things the President wants me to spend time on, or has asked me to. I spend a lot of time on national security matters, which is an interest given my background as Secretary of Defense, on the Intelligence Committee and so forth. And that's clearly where he's spent a lot of his time, as well, too.

I spend a fair amount of time on Hill matters. Part of that is because of my background in the House of Representatives, and part of it because my continuing job as Vice President is in the Senate. Most people don't realize I'm actually on the Senate payroll. That's where my paycheck comes from.

Q You might start spending a lot more time up there.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I don't know about that. (Laughter.) But I enjoy the Congress very much. And at one time thought that's where I was going to spend my career. And so I've been able to do some good up there and pitch in and help whenever I can, whenever it makes sense. I'm an extra set of hands. But I don't see that the role has changed all that much.

Q Mr. Vice President, do you feel like you're less visible or more visible internally than you were when you all started on January 20, 2001?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Probably less visible now. But when we started, and we went through that -- what was it, 35, 36-day recount period -- and then set up the transition, initially, I had a very visible role because the President asked me to come to Washington and set up the transition, and start that process. We didn't have anybody else on board in terms of any other Cabinet members. So they were all new as we brought them in. And there was, I think, understandably a higher profile when you've only got a few people running around. The administration is just getting formed.

Over time, though, I think everybody settled in pretty well. And there are some things I do that require a certain amount of visibility. Some of what I do, frankly, I do best in private in terms of people I talk with, sometimes negotiations on sensitive matters with members of Congress; the advice I give the President. So I don't talk a lot about the kind of advice I give the President, and sometimes the conversations I have with foreign leaders. I make my input quietly. I don't carry a high profile in the press.

On the other hand, if it's campaign time and I'm out doing 114 campaign events, then obviously that's going to generate a certain amount of visibility.

Q You and the President, this administration seems -- based on public opinion polls -- seem not to get the credit it deserves, certainly you probably feel that way, for the economy. Why is that? Is it the gas prices? Is it the housing bust? Is it Iraq?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think the economy is important, and important from the standpoint of public opinion, and public attitude. My belief is that it will have an impact on the election, and that, in fact, for most people things are pretty good. That doesn't mean it's perfect out there by any means. But I think back over all the years I've been involved in elections -- going back I guess, to the mid 60's - running, what, eight times as a candidate myself, and involved in a lot of others as staff capacity and so forth, I'm hard put to think of a time when the economy was in better shape than it is right now.

We're in one of the best economies that we've had in recent times. Employment is at an all-time record high. Home ownership is at an all-time record high. Productivity has been phenomenal. The stock market is just hitting new highs. Employment numbers are up again -- 6.6 million jobs in three years. There isn't any way you can look at the economy and not conclude that, in fact, things are going very well. And it's also I think testimony to the resilience of our economy the shocks that we've weathered over that period of time.

We have been at war. We've had to spend a lot of money on defense and homeland security. We did go through the aftermath of 9/11, which dealt a significant blow to the economy. We had a recession when we came in. We had Katrina that was one of the worst natural disasters in history.

And in spite of all that, the economy is ticking along at an all-time high. That's testimony, I think, to the basic fundamental resilience of our system to the entrepreneurial genius of the American people, to the free enterprise system and the extent to which markets work. And ours works very well and very ably, in spite of the body blows that have been delivered to it at various times. And I think also obviously some of it is due to good policy.

Now, do we get enough credit for that? I don't know. I suppose any public figure will tell you we never get the good credit we deserve and probably don't get all the criticism we deserve either. It balances out.

Gasoline prices have had a big impact, but now they're headed in the right direction. And I think that's to our benefit, as well, too. People when they go to the pump a couple times a week and fill up the tank, they see what the price of gasoline is, and that becomes a barometer against which they judge how things are doing. My dad used to be able to tell you the price of a gallon of gasoline at every single filling station in Casper, Wyoming. He knew it, and he always went to the low-cost operator. There's a lot of folks out there like that.

But, of course, gasoline prices are headed in the right direction. They've come down very significantly already. And so I think from the standpoint of the economy, when the American people ask themselves about how we've done, I think it's very good. And I also think if you look forward from the standpoint of policy to the extent that this election is going to have an impact, it is going to be policy. And I do think there's a fundamental difference between the parties on taxes. They know what our record is. They know what we believe. They've seen what we've done with tax policy, and the result it has achieved. And I think they know, as well, what the Democrats believe.

The Democrats didn't vote for those tax cuts that we put in place. They opposed them. And Charlie Rangel has indicated he's opposed to any extension of them at all. So I think it's a pretty clear choice, and I think in order for someone to vote Democratic for Congress this year, they have to say, yes, they're voting for a big tax increase because it will happen -- as I say without any action by the Congress at all because those tax provisions are sunsetted, and we have to extend them if we're going to keep those rates.

Q Mr. Vice President, if we could turn to Iraq. How long do you think it will be before the average American sees going to Iraq as a good idea?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think that will all depend upon the final outcome. I think it's difficult to judge, for people to judge week to week. I think we've done the right thing. I think we're doing the right thing now. I firmly believe that. The President firmly believes it. I think the world is better off with Saddam Hussein in jail, on trial than it would be if he were in power, especially in light of the fact that right next door today in Iran, of course, you've got Mr. Ahmadinejad off and running trying to develop nuclear weapons. The only thing that would be more volatile is if you also had Saddam Hussein trying to develop nuclear weapons in Baghdad.

So I think the results we've achieved to date -- establishing a democratic government, getting rid of the old regime, closing down a major state sponsor of terror, shutting off Saddam Hussein's practice of making payments to the families of suicide bombers, et cetera. I think we've done good work to get this far. It has been tough. We've got more to do. It's going to be tough to finish the task, but I think it's very important that we complete the task.

Q Mr. Vice President, do you think that in your lifetime going to Iraq will be seen as visionary -- widely seen as visionary?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do. And this is part of the debate we get into about can you look at Iraq without looking at the broader context; and you can't. I don't see any way you can argue, for example, that what happens in Iraq isn't going to have an impact on Musharraf in Pakistan, or Karzai in Afghanistan.

They key to a workable strategy in that part of the world against al Qaeda, and the Islamic radicals that we're at war with, is to get the locals into the fight. They've got to take responsibility for their own governments. They've got to take responsibility for their own security. That's what's happened in Afghanistan and in Pakistan where, obviously, we work closely with President Musharraf, having them come down on the side of combating al Qaeda, and working with us in the intelligence arena and so forth to capture and kill al Qaeda has been absolutely essential -- same thing in Saudi Arabia.

You could imagine what happens if we were to do what some of the Democrats want, withdraw from Iraq, to a man like Karzai or Musharraf, who in effect -- there have been three assassination attempts on Musharraf. He puts his life on the line every day when he goes to work. The hundreds of thousands of men in Afghanistan and Iraq who signed on for the security forces to fight on our side, in effect, against the evil ones; the overall attitude of the millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq who have gone to the polls and risked their own lives in order to vote and participate in a newly created democracies, and suddenly the United States says, well, gee, it's too tough in Iraq, we're going home -- you cannot separate out Iraq from that broader global war on terror. Bin Laden has made the point repeatedly that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror.

Q But hasn't he made that point because we're there? If we weren't there, would he be making that point?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The fact of the matter is we are there, and it is the central struggle at this point. But there's no reason in the world we can't succeed. There's no reason in the world this government -- which has only been in business five months -- can't ultimately be successful. It's our job to stay there as long as we have to help them get it right. But we don't want to stay a day longer than necessary.

But this is just a vital point for us to keep in mind, that this is a global struggle, that the terrorists have bet from the beginning their only strategy is to be able to break our will. They can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. They go back and they cite evidence of Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993, when they killed Americans and then Americans withdrew. They believe based on their experience in the '90s they could strike us with impunity, and that if they killed enough Americans, they could change American policy. They're trying to break our will. They think we don't have the stomach for the fight.

For us to do what the Democrats -- some Democrats -- have suggested in Iraq would simply validate that strategy, would simply say to al Qaeda, you're right. And all it would do is encourage more of the same.

Q Isn't what's happening in Iraq, though, not about al Qaeda principally, but about sectarian war and civil war, the potential for civil war? Aren't we on the verge in Iraq of occupying a country that's being torn apart in a civil dispute, a civil war?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There's no question what there is sectarian violence now, but remember how we got to sectarian violence: al Qaeda. That was their strategy to launch attacks against the Shia, to kill Shia until they could generate some kind of a response. And there's no question but what there's sectarian Shia-on-Sunni violence today. But just because it's tough doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

And the lesson we should have learned with 9/11 is that there may have been a time in our history when we could withdraw behind our borders and be safe and secure here at home. That day passed on 9/11. When we saw the damage that a handful of men could do -- trained in Afghanistan in the remote training camps of Afghanistan, aided and abetted -- a planning cell in Hamburg, Germany, and end up here killing 3,000 Americans that morning, and when we think of the ultimate threat of deadlier weapons than they had that day, the idea that we can turn our back on the Middle East and walk away from a state that could conceivably become a safe haven for terrorists or another area where they can train and plot and plan, that went out the window on 9/11. We have to be concerned with what's going on in that part of the world. And going on offense, as we have, I'm convinced is one of the things that has kept us safe here at home.

Q Mr. Vice President, to take your point about the Iraqi people, are you surprised or disappointed that the Iraqi people have not done more, more quickly or been more grateful to the United States?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I talk to a lot of Iraqis, and the ones I talk with have been very grateful and expressed their gratitude. They also -- I think it's a measure of the extent to which they've been beaten down during Saddam's years in power, especially the Shia, who are the majority -- roughly 60 percent of the population, who are clearly very heavily engaged now in the new government, but who were denied their role all those years Saddam was in power, governed by a Sunni minority, if you will -- and so beaten down, especially after the '91 episode where they rose up against the regime and then were slaughtered in large numbers that it has been hard, I think, for them in some cases to step forward and take on responsibility. But now they're doing it. And it's risky business.

And you look Mr. Hashimi, who is one of the vice presidents, who has lost two brothers and a sister to assassination, just in the last few months. It's very risky business for people to step up over there and take on major political responsibilities. We have to admire them for being willing to do it. We need to help them and support them in that enterprise. And I think ultimately they'll pull it off. They're tough people. They're bright. There's a lot of work that needs to be done. But I have -- I like Maliki. I think he's a good Prime Minister. I think he's got what it takes to make this all work. And I think we've got a lot invested as a nation in seeing that they're successful. The world is going to be a safer and more secure place, including right here at home in the United States if we get it right in Iraq.

Q Mr. Vice President, what do you want from Secretary James Baker's Iraq Study Group?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Jim is a good man. He's a close friend. The President and I have a lot of confidence in him. Lee Hamilton is a good man, too. I served with Lee on the House Intelligence Committee back in the '80s. And I think they've got a good panel. My old friend Al Simpson is a member of the group. They've been doing a lot of work to study events in that part of the world, and we'll see what they produce. I haven't seen the report.

Q There's certainly a lot of talk in Washington that this will give -- try to give for an exit strategy after the election.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I know what the President thinks. I know what I think. And we're not looking for an exit strategy; we're looking for victory. And victory will be the day when the Iraqis solve their political problems and are up and running with respect to their own government, and when they're able to provide for their own security. And how we get to that objective is what we need to keep in mind.

Our strategy hasn't changed. Our tactics change from time to time, and they have to adapt and adjust. And we're eager to have thoughts and ideas from experienced people in terms of how we can move forward in having the Baker-Hamilton group go put fresh eyes on the problem and take a look at it. We think it's a valuable exercise. We'll see what they produce.

Q Mr. Vice President, if you had to take back any one thing you'd said about Iraq, what would it be?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: If I had to take back anything I've said about Iraq? Well, if you think -- thinking in terms of things that I've been surprised by. I thought that the elections that we went through in '05 would have had a bigger impact on the level of violence than they have, I guess, I'd put it in those terms. I would have thought -- well, I expressed the sentiment some time ago that I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence, I think that was premature. I thought the elections would have created that environment. And it hasn't happened yet.

That's the other thing that I'd mention, too, and separate and apart from that, and not really in response to your question. I'm struck by the fact, as well, to come back to this notion that what's being attempted here is to break our will. Friedman has got an interesting piece today on it, if you saw Tom Friedman this morning talking about the extent to which the enemy in this stage in Iraq aim very much at the American people, and public opinion in the United States very sensitive to how to use the media to gain access through technical means that are available now on the Internet and everything else to create as much violence as possible, as much bloodshed as possible and get that broadcast back into the United States as a way to try to shape opinion and influence the outcome of our debate here at home. And I think some of that is going on, too.

Q Mr. Vice President, are you satisfied with the intelligence you're getting about Iran?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to talk about intelligence. This is generally not a good road to go down. I don't talk about intelligence, and I'm going to pass.

Q How much of your mind share do you think is going to be occupied by Iran in the coming two years?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mind share? Is that a -

Q Kids today. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: You mean what part of my storage unit is going to be devoted to it? (Laughter.) Well, Iran is a very, very important problem, and it's -- my guess is we'll be focused on it as long as we're in office.

Q Do you think we'll have a military draft in your lifetime? Is it possible that we would need one?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't believe so. I'm a great believer in the all-volunteer force. I think that's one of the best things we've done in the last 40 years in this country. It produces a very, very high-caliber military. People are serving because they want to serve.

I was down this week in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the 101st; a couple of weeks ago with the 3rd Division down at Fort Stewart; down at Fort Hood recently, with the 4th ID and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. These are just remarkable men and women. And the all-volunteer force has fundamentally transformed the services because they went from a posture and organization where they didn't have to pay a lot of attention to personnel policy because they could compel service. The selective service system coughed up troops, and they put them in with the units, and away they went.

When we moved to an all-volunteer force, we had to be able to attract volunteers, and you have to be able to motivate them, and provide them with the kind of opportunity for service, and to meet basic, fundamental requirements, when they've got other options. It fundamentally transforms the way they think about people, the way they think about the organization. I think it's had an enormous impact on the services, as well. Part of this comes from my time as Secretary of Defense, and I'm a huge believer in the all-volunteer force.

We preserve the selective service system in the event there were to be some catastrophic conflict that would require putting 20 million people in uniform like we did in World War II, but I don't foresee at this stage the likelihood of that.

Q Mr. Vice President, now that you're a wartime Vice President, do you regret not having served in the military?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. I don't go back and look at those decisions. I've spent a lot of time over the years on these issues. But I'm 65; I'd like to go back and do it all over again, but I made the choices I made.

Q In light of the North-Korean tests, Mr. Vice President, is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty system in trouble, and have nuclear arsenals been revalued by countries that we worry about?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think we're at a time when there is going to be a major test of the international community's ability and determination to deal with the proliferation problem, and the test obviously is North Korea and Iran. So far, I would say, with respect to North Korea, I've been generally pleased with the way in which the international community has come together in the last week or two after the test by North Korea. The Chinese have been vital in that process, and they clearly have -- I think they've undergone a significant transformation in terms of how they look at the problem. And the unanimous vote in the Security Council, a pretty good set of resolutions, sanctions under Title 7, the U.N. Charter, those are positive signs.

The ultimate test though will be whether or not we can complete the task of the de-nuclearization, if you will, of the Korean Peninsula, and also get the Iranians to come into compliance with their obligations under the NPT and give up their aspirations to build nuclear weapons. And the jury is still out, but this is sort of the ultimate test for the U.N Security Council, or the ability of the international community to come together and devise and put in place sanctions, implement those sanctions, and enforce those sanctions, and achieve a result.

Q And if they fail?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: As the President said, we haven't taken any options of the table.

Q Mr. Vice President, do you worry that North Korea's action and the attention it's gotten will encourage that behavior by other states that you worry about?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll have to see. The main one we focus on clearly is Iran. We've had some success in this area with Libyans getting ready to give up - they did give up their nuclear materials, their centrifuges, weapons design, uranium feedstock. A lot of that I personally feel was directly the result of what we did in Iraq. As we launched into Iraq, they indicated a willingness to talk about their weapons of mass destruction. And right after we dug Saddam Hussein out of his hole, nine months later, then they went forward and announced that they were giving it all up, and they've turned it all over to us, and we've got all that material now.

We also were able to shut down the A.Q. Khan black-market network that provided that, so we've had one great success so far in the proliferation area.

But again, as I said, a lot of that is due directly to what the United States and Britain did in Iraq. And we'll see now whether or not the U.N. Security Council, basically, is willing to step up. And there is a test for that organization. If there's a problem, they ought to be able to deal with this issue, the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology to these regimes that clearly are a threat to their neighbors. I don't know how it's going to come out diplomatically, but we hope we can resolve it diplomatically.

Q Mr. Vice President, do you believe that we'll have a confrontation with Iran before you leave office?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am hopeful we can resolve all these differences diplomatically.

Q And may we ask two questions about the future? Mr. Vice President, do you plan to hunt again?


Q Why not run for President? You're younger than John McCain. You look okay.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've got a lot of miles on me. (Laughter.)

Q Seriously, I mean is it -- there's nobody who could convince you, you should? Certainly, there are people in the party would like to see it.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I looked at it very seriously, back in '94, '96 time frame, and I went out on the '94 election cycle, and I set up a PAC. Dave Addington ran the political action committee for me. We raised a bunch of money, and I campaigned all over the country that year helping with the '94 effort. And then -- with the understanding that I'd sit down at the end of that period of time, which I did -- Christmas, that year, and decide whether or not I really wanted to run myself, and I concluded I did not, that I wasn't prepared to do all those things I'd have to do to be a candidate, and that I'd had a great 25 years in public life, and it was time to go pursue private life.

Shortly after that, Halliburton came along, and I enjoyed running Halliburton, spent five years in Dallas. The President persuaded me to come back. I'm glad I did. I don't regret that for a minute, but that's different than making a decision -- ready to jump into the arena out there and run for President. And I really think my -- the value of my service in this administration had been in part because I haven't had my own agenda. I'm not worried about how I'm going to do in the Iowa caucuses in January of '08. I'm focused specifically on what the President wants done and needs to have done. That gives me credibility inside the administration and outside, and with the other players here in Washington, and I think it's been an important ingredient -- what I've been able to do for him.

Q Mr. Vice President, do you imagine going back to the corporate world or what do you think you and Mrs. Cheney will do after you leave office?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't have any idea. I'll be 68. I still have a few good years left, and I expect we'll spend time with family. Still got a lot of rivers I haven't fished.

Q Do you think you and Mrs. Cheney will live in the D.C. area or the Eastern Shore or Wyoming?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think maybe all of the above. Grandkids are here, so we spend a lot of time here.

Q Do you imagine being visible, having a public role, or do you think you will be quieter?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, at this stage, I do not envision a public role for me when I leave. It will have been 40 years since I came to Washington, and I came to stay 12 months. And aside from the time I spent in Texas, or the year I spent at home in Wyoming running for Congress, I've been here ever since, and I've loved it. It's been a tremendous life. I've enjoyed it very much, but I think there will come a time to hang it up, say that's it -- and my remaining years will be spent in private life.

Q Question to you on the hunting question. Do you know if Harry Whittington would hunt with you again?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't asked him. (Laughter.)

Q But you said you're going to go again. Why do you feel confident that you will, and do you think you'll do it before you leave office?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do expect I will go again. I'll just leave it at that.

Q Thank you.


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