|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 2, 2007
Interview of the Vice President by Mike Gallagher, The Mike Gallagher Live Radio Show
10:40 A.M. CDT
Q This is a very interesting day for us, and we're honored and incredibly privileged to welcome Vice President Richard Cheney to The Mike Gallagher Show studios. I've had the privilege to meet you before. A guy named Hannity and I came to see you in an event in Minnesota; met -- spent some time with you backstage. Met your wife -- I've had her on the show very many times. First of all, welcome to our show and welcome to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's good to be back in Dallas and good to be on your show, Mike.
Q You know, I got to ask you, on a very personal level, before we talk about the issues at hand and the war on terror and this -- the congressional inaction. I'm so -- I asked listeners this week, if you had a chance to say something to Vice President Cheney, what kind of thing would you like to know from him? And I was so struck by all the kind, caring people who really admire you and President Bush. And they said, how does he stay so consistent and so nonplussed and so -- day in and day out, the Darth Vader and the, you know, "the puppet" -- all this terrible stuff -- you've had this for six-plus years, and yet you've never veered off course. And I think that was the theme from a lot of our listeners.
How does that not knock you off track? I mean, if I'm you, I'm in the fetal position, I probably couldn't get out of bed in the morning. You, of course, continue to be consistent and unwavering in your ideology and your focus. How -- where do you get strength -- where do you find the strength to do that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, Mike, a lot of it has to do with the fact that the President and I have some very deep beliefs based on what we perceive to be the challenges that the nation faces; that 9/11 really was a watershed event; and that coming out of that, we adopted a strategy that we've adhered to ever since, both with respect to aggressively going after our enemies overseas, as well as doing everything we could to defend the homeland.
And there are, of course, a lot of bumps in the road, a lot of criticism, a lot of flak, but if you believe deeply in what you're doing, and you have conviction about a basic set of principles you're operating on, that's sort of your lodestar that you guide by. And the criticism of the press or the political shots from your opponents are of no consequence.
Q But these aren't just political shots, Mr. Vice President. You know that. You've been at this game for many, many years. I don't remember, even with an impeached President not so long ago, the kind of intense, personal vitriol that you and President Bush have experienced. At some level as a person -- you're a dad, you're a husband, you're by all accounts a really decent guy -- somewhere you got to be saying, man, this is over the top. I mean --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, occasionally it is over the top, but what keeps you going, Mike, is that the other side of that -- of the criticism, or the shots that are --
Q Pot shots.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- pot shots, is, you get around the country and you talk to people. You go spend time with the troops. Spend time, as I did yesterday -- I was in Indianapolis to give a speech at the American Legion there, and I met, after the speech, with a family of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq; had been wounded, went back, been wounded a second time, and died of his wounds. His mother and father were there, his wife, two young kids, brother and sister. And when you deal with folks like that and you see the depth of their commitment and his commitment and what he did for all of us --
Q And wanting to go back after he was injured the first time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Exactly. When you deal with the men and women of the U.S. military, when you get out around the country and have people come up to you -- which happens all the time -- and say, you know, Dick, we're praying for you and the President --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We really believe in what you're doing -- it's fairly easy then, in a sense, to keep your mind focused on what you're doing and why you're doing it.
Q And to draw on that. To draw on that for your strength.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. When your strength is out there, you can sit inside the Beltway and there's a lot of that smoke and fire, and politicians making nasty comments and so forth, but bottom line is to remember who is vital to this process, and that's the vast majority of the American people out there, and what they believe, and it's those men and women in uniform and their families who are the ones who bear the ultimate burden and pay the ultimate price. And you never want to forget your obligation to them.
Q One more personal question, and then we'll get into some world issues and some domestic issues. You know, I was struck by seeing this incredible process that has to take place when a Vice President arrives, and realized last night, when I was thinking about all these preparations and the security and all of your aides and all the accompanying, you know, brouhaha that goes on, this happens everywhere you go.
You don't go anywhere, I guess, nor does the President go anywhere, without all of this extensive -- how does that not change you, as a person, knowing that in a few years, when it's time to lay back and go fly-fishing in Wyoming -- you know, the advance teams won't necessarily be -- I mean, doesn't this -- you have to be a very special kind of person not to just expect that, I'm always going to have this kind of incredible intensity everywhere I go.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, they've all got a job to do. When you're at the center of the bubble, lot of times you aren't aware of what's going on outside the bubble.
Q Right, right. I have a hunch you are, though.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I am, in part, because I used to be part of the group outside the bubble. I worked for President Ford, for example --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- overseeing the whole operation as chief of staff. You get a very different perspective than you do when you're the guy who's being supported.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But, you know, my career has been such that I've been in the middle of the White House operation, and then out after the '76 election, an out-of-work politician. Then a Congressman for 10 years from Wyoming. Back as Secretary of Defense, and sort of back inside the bubble. And then after we left office in '93, came to Texas as a private citizen.
I mean, when you've been through that process two or three times, you know there is a day coming when all of the hoorah goes away -- (laughter) -- and those folks will be working supporting somebody else.
Q As I was being frisked today, I thought, boy, there is hoorah. There is. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is. You know, I wish it wasn't as extensive as it is. On the other hand, we've gotten to that point, unfortunately, with respect to the security situation, obviously. We're especially -- since 9/11, it's been significantly beefed up.
Q Look at what Condoleezza Rice went through. I mean, here's this crazy woman, sadly from this part of the country, who puts red paint on her hands and goes charging up to Condoleezza Rice. But incidentally, what a show of strength that was. She didn't even flinch. Condi Rice just stood there and looked at her. I mean, again, I'm under the table, crying and weeping and screaming, probably. Condoleezza Rice just stood there. But I thought, man, if that woman had a knife or a substance, we have a horrible story on our hands. I mean, this is the world we live in. I guess -- so obviously, this is all, I guess, inevitable, and it's too bad, but maybe someday it'll get better.
Vice President Dick Cheney in our studios. Thirteen minutes before the hour here on the Mike Gallagher Show.
Let's talk about the war on terror, which, of course, is something on the hearts and minds of so many Americans. I found the statistic this week, Mr. Vice President, that showed casualties of war; fatalities in -- for people who served our country, going all the way back to 1980.
You know, war critics like to paint this picture that thee is this horrific spike and we've lost thousands of people and it's all because of this unjust war -- and you know the narrative that they stick to. And yet I saw the numbers and not -- and, of course, I don't say this to give any -- take anything away from the sacrifice, the ultimate commitment that our men and women have made, and in many cases, the ultimate sacrifice -- but the number has stayed, frankly, year to year, in about the same area: 1980, it was like 1,900; in 1981, it was 2,200.
Again, awful to lose lives in defense of our country. It's heroic, it's noble. But the fact of the matter is, there really isn't this huge spike. And in fact, what's happening in Iraq right now is getting better and better every week, every month, year to year. Yet that's not a story that the mainstream press seems to cover very often, is it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think you're right about that, Mike, in the sense that we are making significant progress on the ground in Iraq. We're seeing those results. But keep your fingers crossed, because the enemy is still there; they're still working hard to try to prevail. But I think the policy the President put in place last January is working. It is producing the right kind of result.
The significance and the thing that I try to remind people about, in terms of trying to evaluate casualties -- and as you say, one life is to be regretted.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But we need to remember what happened on 9/11. All of a sudden we lost nearly 3,000 Americans here that morning to 19 guys armed with box cutters and airline tickets. But the ultimate threat now is that the next time when we have al Qaeda in the midst of one of our own cities, they'll have a far deadlier weapon -- a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind, sort of the ultimate threat. And in terms of evaluating the cost of what we do and of the measures we've taken and of the effort we've gone into in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, it has to be evaluated against the cost the nation will pay if we don't pursue that course of action.
Q And in just --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If they were to get their hands on a deadlier weapon and be able to use that against us.
Q And the road just continues to be rugged ahead for us. Now, of course, we have to deal with the nuclear concerns of places like Iran. We look at some of these leaders and we say, you know -- I mean, this is what you meant when we started this effort, and you -- the Bush-Cheney administration kept saying, the "axis of evil," the "global war on terror." And yet we've got a faction that seems to say, let's just fold our tents, let's come home, and hope they don't do it again.
And I guess the message that I've learned from this administration has been, that's not going to be an option as long as George Bush and Dick Cheney are in office. I mean, that's what's so terrifying about what could happen in '08 if we take our ball and go home and we say, oh, let's hope they don't hit us again. Because they're going to hit us again.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. They're trying very hard to hit us again. It's no accident that they haven't been able to. I think -- remember the things we've done, the Terrorist Surveillance Program and so forth, have been absolutely essential in protecting the nation and in allowing us to disrupt and thwart further attacks.
But it's essential that people get firmly fixed in their minds that the day is passed when we could treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem, in the way they dealt with it before 9/11; that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and be safe and secure here. I mean, if we learned anything on 9/11, it was that what happens in remote parts of the Middle East, where people can organize and plan and train for attacks, has a direct bearing on our security here in the United States.
Q Let's talk for a moment about -- I share with you, and I want you to know about a letter that I -- a listener put into my hands. It was from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and it's written on congressional -- Democratic Congressional stationary. It's from Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland. And it's the -- it's the strategy to expand the Democrats' majority in '08. And there are four orders of business. The number one priority the Democrats apparently -- and this is a letter that we put on our website, mikeonline.com; this is to dedicated Democratic leaders from Congressman Van Hollen. The top priority of this Congress to expand their majority is one, putting Republicans on the defensive. That's the stated policy to try to expand the majority.
You, of course, as Vice President of the United States, are President of the Senate. It is unbelievable to me how nothing has gotten done in the House or the Senate. It is -- when people say the "do-nothing Congress" today, that's an understatement. You've got to be almost, you know, gnashing your teeth at how little has been accomplished by the United States Congress under Democratic leadership.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, you're absolutely right, Mike. And this is the worst Congress in more than 20 years, in terms of getting appropriations bills to the President. He hasn't gotten any yet.
Q None. How can that be?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's their basic business. That has to be done every year. They know it has to be done. They've got to fund the military. They've got to fund all the agencies of the federal government. They have not yet, to date, gotten a single bill to the President's desk that he can sign in the appropriations area. What they're doing instead, though, is playing political games, as you pointed out --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- trying to put us on the defensive. They sent him the so-called SCHIP bill, he vetoed it, sent it back, we sustained the veto.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now they're sending the SCHIP bill again.
Q I know.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Makes no sense. They have tried repeatedly to have votes to force our withdrawal from Iraq, for example, or to, in effect, surrender there. They've lost all those votes every single time. Yet they keep coming back and coming back and coming back, and here we are now, well into the new fiscal year, and not a single appropriations bill has reached his desk yet.
Q Do you have conversations away from microphones and cameras with congressional leaders and -- I mean, you're known as a tough guy. I mean, aren't -- it's like somebody needs to kick these guys in the fanny and say, can you get something done here?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we -- of course, I do sit as President of the Senate, but I don't control the agenda.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's controlled by Harry Reid on the Senate side, and Nancy Pelosi in the House -- has been since they captured the majority in the last election. They're responsible for what comes to the floor and what gets considered and so forth. And on the SCHIP debate, the President said, look, let's sit down and work together; I've got my team ready to sit down and negotiate and see what we can work out.
Q Right, right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They wanted no part of it.
Q This is the -- by the way, this is -- just to be clear -- the Harry Reid who thought that the fires in California were caused by global warming.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Yeah, that's the same man. I mean, this is just incredible how there's such a disingenuous debate that results from -- I'm sorry -- from Democrats who don't seem to want to get anything done on behalf of Americans. And listen, this is what we're going to be faced with in November of '08. There are going to be some tough decisions, I think, for people to say, okay, this is what you want; we're going to have four years of nothing getting done?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the American people will look in '08 at what's transpired over the pressed -- past two years. They'll look at the proposals of both parties. What they'll see, if they do that on taxes, for example, they'll see that Charlie Rangel, the Democratic Chairman of the Ways and Means and Committee, has put forth a whole new package; it's sort of the mother-of-all tax increase.
Q Right. It's huge.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It is huge. It undoes a lot of the good policy we put in place the last few years that have stimulated the economy. And you'll see also -- there's no question -- but I think their track record with respect to national security, global war on terror, defending the country against further terrorist attacks is very weak. If they had their way, we would not have in place the programs that we've got there today that have saved thousands of lives.
Q All right, Mr. Vice President, I know you've got to get out of here. You know what a supporter I am and an advocate I am of Dick Cheney, so throw me a bone, give me a scoop here: Who do you like entering the Oval Office in 2008? They say right now in South Carolina, it's a three-way tie -- Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. You know, I won't tell anybody if you give us a big scoop. Who do you like in '08 on the Republican ticket?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I know the Republicans. I think it's a good group. I think -- I frankly think a Republican will win the '08 election. There's no question in my mind. But I have stayed scrupulously neutral. I didn't want to tilt it one way or the other.
Q You're not going to throw me a bone?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President is in the same position. It wouldn't be fair to whoever I didn't name.
Q That's true.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or, on the other hand, if I named somebody, it might not help him.
Q I like -- but I like your optimism, a Republican in '08. And I hope you know how much we appreciate it. I know what a venture this is to come to a radio show like this one. Please know how much we're praying for you and how many our listeners -- how many of our listeners are praying for you. Have a great visit here in the Dallas area, and God bless you, and thank you for your service, Mr. Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thanks, Mike. And thanks for your show, you do great work.
Q Thank you, sir. It's great having you here. Vice President Dick Cheney here on The Mike Gallagher Show. I'm Mike Gallagher. God bless America.
END 10:56 A.M. CDT