This Week: Chris sits down for an exclusive interview with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Dick Cheney Defends Memoir, Mulls Clinton Candidacy
Written by Chris Wallace / Published September 04, 2011 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Dick Cheney
The following is a rush transcript of the September 4, 2011, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney sets the record straight and settles some old scores. With a new book out, we'll ask him about his years in the Bush White House.
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WALLACE: Did you advise the president to take out Iran's nuclear infrastructure?
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WALLACE: About the 2012.
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WALLACE: You think Democrats would be better off with Hillary Clinton as the nominee?
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WALLACE: And about his health.
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WALLACE: If a transplant will keep you alive longer, why wouldn't you have it?
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WALLACE: Former Vice President Dick Cheney in a "Fox News Sunday" sit-down.
Also, Barack Obama prepares to address Congress and the nation on his plan for getting America back to work. We'll ask our Sunday panel how much is riding on his big speech this week.
All right now on "Fox News Sunday."
And hello again on this Labor Day weekend from Fox News in Washington. It is no holds barred new book. Former Vice President Dick Cheney chronicles his decades in public life. He takes us in the key behind-the-scenes in the Bush White House and he offers his opinion on where the country is headed now.
We sat down with Cheney to talk about his book "In My Time" and a about a lot more that isn't in the book.
WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: It's good to be back, Chris.
WALLACE: I want to start in June 2007. The Bush administration had intelligence that Syria was building a nuclear reactor with help from North Korea. There was a meeting at the National Security Council and you made the argument that taking out the reactor would send a strong message not only to Syria, not only to North Korea, but also to Iran.
CHENEY: I lost the argument. I thought I made an eloquent presentation, Chris. But after -- I've had the opportunity to have my say. And the president was very good about he knew what I was going to say, but giving me that opportunity. Then he went around the room and he asked if anybody there, members of the National Security Council, agreed with the vice president. Nobody did. I was the only one who advocated that course of action.
So, the ultimate outcome was that they decided to pursue a diplomatic solution through the United Nations, and the Israelis found that unacceptable and the Israelis took out the reactor, which is what need to be done.
WALLACE: You also give a detailed account of Secretary of State Rice negotiating in 2008 with the North Koreans. And frankly, I think it's fair to say, you hammer her. You say she made concession after concession -- this was in approach to arms control -- I had never seen before. We were headed for a train wreck.
CHENEY: That's correct. She had a lot of help from the State Department. And Condi at that point was secretary of state. But I felt that the North Koreans continually walked away from the commitments they've made. And the tendency of the State Department was to make another concession, to see if that would get them to fulfill their commitments and their obligations. They never did.
Our failure to be consistent over time and keep those commitments and force them to keep the commitments, I think, resulted in a situation where the North Koreans not only proliferated technology to Syria.
Ultimately, they tested another weapon. They went forward and developed uranium enrichment capacity which we thought they had. They denied it. It turned out they, in fact, had it. And they've got some 2,000 centrifuges operating now.
They basically functioned with impunity in diplomatic sense and we never did get on top of the North Korea problem during our time in office.
WALLACE: Now, Rice has now responded to your comments and says that you basically attacked her integrity and that she never misled the president.
CHENEY: Well, I don't believe that I attacked her integrity. I did try to make a strong case on the merits and the substance of the issue.
WALLACE: I guess the point I want to get at is, it wasn't just Condi Rice and it wasn't just a rogue State Department because in October 2008, you report the fact that President Bush agreed with Rice to take North Korea off of the list of state sponsored of terrorism. And you write this in the book.
"It was a sad moment because it seemed to be a repudiation of the Bush Doctrine and a reversal of so much of what we had accomplished in the area of non-proliferation in first term."
I mean, here was the administration, in your mind, going back on its own principles.
CHENEY: Well, the president made the decision based on the advice he got. He got conflicting advice from me and Secretary Rice. It was his call. He was the president of the United States.
WALLACE: Why do you think he changed --
CHENEY: Well, I think he believed that that was the right thing to do. I disagree.
WALLACE: But why do you think he believed it when you talk about --
CHENEY: I can't, you know, speak for him obviously. But I think he sat down and looked at it and he concluded he wanted to take Secretary Rice's advice and follow the lead of the State Department, which he did, and made that decision.
WALLACE: I wanted to start with these two examples because they seem to confirm a belief that you were marginalized in the second term. That after having an awful lot of clout and influence, not saying you ran things, but that you had a view of the world and the president seemed to agree with you -- that that kind of ended in the second term.
CHENEY: Well, I think my clout was diminished, that's possible. I wouldn't quarrel about that. I didn't measure my success in terms of what I recommended based on the debates I won with respect to policy. I did it based primarily, one, what I believed, what I thought was best for the country and with the encouragement of the president.
WALLACE: I guess what I'm getting at is that it seems to me is that the clear implication is that while you feel that you remained a hard liner in the success term on confronting terrorism and confronting the state sponsors of terrorism, you believed that the president and other top advisers went soft?
CHENEY: Well, I didn't use those words, Chris.
WALLACE: I know.
CHENEY: Those are your words?
WALLACE: But isn't that what you believe?
CHENEY: I believe that we were not as effective in the second term dealing with this issue of nuclear none proliferation as we had been during the first term when we stripped Libya and Iraq and A.Q. Khan and their capacity to proliferate nuclear technology.
WALLACE: But why did think the administration lose its will in that area?
CHENEY: Well, you are asking me to make a judgment now.
WALLACE: Well, you are close of an observer as anybody else was.
CHENEY: And I have given it a lot of thought and written about it. So, what you find in the book is what I believe in terms of trying to interpret why others did what they did. You know, I'm really -- I can't be in that business. They've got to speak for themselves.
WALLACE: You write also about the Iraq troop surge in 2007.
Republicans started to get nervous. It wasn't working as quickly and
effectively as it was hoped. Stories started coming out of the White
House about maybe you're going to start pulling troops out faster. You
go to see the president and you say to him in Oval Office, "The stories, these leaks out of the White House are cutting our commanders off their knees. Shortly thereafter, the National Security Advisor Steve Hadley comes to your office and says --
CHENEY: And he said that he'd been the source of one of the leaks,
and he had done it at the direction of the president.
WALLACE: That's pretty stunning.
CHENEY: Well, that was a bit of surprise. My immediate reaction
was -- I thought it was well I didn't know that before I made my pitch
to the president because I thought it was important that he hear the
other point of view. Now, on behalf of the president, he made the right
decision, he stayed with the surge all the way through. He was the one
who originally opted for the surge.
And when he was getting all of this advice from Capitol Hill, a
number of Republican senators frankly that we're talking about bolting
and from people inside of his own staff, he looked at that, listened to
it, also decidedly to stick with the surge and it was the right call to
WALLACE: I want to ask you about another issue. In your book, you
say how upset you were when you found out the latest, the final
secretary of defense, Bob Gates, told the Saudi king that President Bush would be impeached if he were to take out Iran's nuclear structure.
But you don't say what your advice was. I'm going to ask you a direct question. Did you advise the president to take out Iran's nuclear infrastructure?
CHENEY: I didn't write about that in the book.
WALLACE: I know.
CHENEY: That's why you are asking.
CHENEY: No. What I we I felt strongly about it and spoke publicly
at that time was that I felt we needed to have a military option on the
table. We never got to the point where I said I think we need to launch
a strike against the Iranian program. But I did think it was important
that I'd be part of the package of possibilities.
WALLACE: But you never advised him?
CHENEY: I was always advising. Keep that option.
WALLACE: But you never advised, exercise it?
CHENEY: Correct. And when Bob went to Saudi Arabia and said to the
kind of Saudi Arabia the president can't do that or he'd be impeached in effect took it off of the table and I thought that was a mistake.
WALLACE: Let's go back to 9/11. What did you remember about that day?
CHENEY: What I remember that really stands out, like it was only
yesterday -- I don't think I'll forget it -- was being in my office
watching the second plane hit the tower in New York and having the door
burst open and my lead Secret Service agent grab me by the belt and hand on my coat and say, "Sir, we have to leave immediately and take off." Run me down the hall. I had no choice but to go with him, though, the way he was maneuvering me.
And he informed me as we took off that there was a plane headed for
Crown, code word for the White House, at 500 miles per hour, coming in
from Dulles. It turned out that was flight 77, American 77, that came
in and made a circle and went into the Pentagon. Then I was on the way
to the Presidential Emergency Operation Center when we started the
process, called the president -- urged him to come back until we knew
better what was going on.
But foremost in my mind is sitting in the PEOC.
WALLACE: Which is the?
CHENEY: Which is the President Emergency Operation Center.
WALLACE: The bunker, underneath the --
CHENEY: The bunker the White House and had Norm Mineta with me, the
secretary of transportation, and we had a list of six aircraft we
believed had been hijacked instead of four. We were trying to get all
of the planes down out of the sky. And we watched as the towers of the
World Trade Center collapsed -- something no one expected and anticipated.
And you could sit there and see and be aware that thousands of
people were at that moment being killed as a result of the terrorist
attacks that struck the United States.
WALLACE: Now, you and the president had earlier discussed rules of
engagement for taking down a hijacked airplane. But you were the one
who gave the direct order to shoot down a plane that you were told, as
it turns out incorrectly was headed for Washington?
CHENEY: Right. That's correct.
WALLACE: What's that moment like?
CHENEY: Well, it was necessary. And it was -- frankly, I didn't
pause to think about it very much because once one of those aircraft
became or hijacked it was a weapon. We had seen already by that time
three of them go into the Pentagon and World Trade Center in New York.
As a result, thousands died.
And if he has been in the position to intercept one of those, to
keep it from striking its target, would we have done it? Absolutely.
And what I did was passed on the president's approval of the basic
proposition, that we would in fact authorize our people to shoot down
aircraft that had been hijacked and refused to divert. So, I saw it as
part of my responsibility, but I did it quickly because we had a lot of
things we were doing at the same time.
WALLACE: There was a lot of talk about your criticism on the book
of Colin Powell. You say that he seemed to feel it was OK to talk to
outsiders about his problems with the president Iraq policy. But that he never brought up specifically in meetings with the president. As you
know, Secretary Powell, General Colin Powell, has unloaded on you.
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COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It's going to cause heads
to explode, that's quite a visual. And, in fact, the kind of headline
to come out of a gossip columnist. Mr. Cheney has had a long and
distinguished career and I hoped in his book, that's what he will
focused on, not these cheap shots to me and other members of the
administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.
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WALLACE: You have the classic Cheney smile. But in fairness to the
general, he says, look, I'm the guy who said to President Bush, the
pottery barn rule. You go in Iran, you own it.
CHENEY: Well, if you look at the book, Chris, and I know you read
it, the fact of the matter there is more in the book that talks about
the positive relationship I had with General Powell when we were in the
Pentagon and I had selected him to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. We worked well together for four years through Operation Desert
Storm and so forth.
So, I think -- I don't think General Powell had read the whole book
when he made his comments.
WALLACE: You were pretty tough on him on the book?
CHENEY: Well, I was accurate. And historically, I think portrayed
what I perceived to be the situation. I assumed that I'm only going to
have one opportunity to write a book.
Now, the president has written a book, the secretary of defense has
written a book, the director of the CIA has written a book, the
secretary of state is writing a book. I thought it only proper that I
should put down my thoughts on those years in office, which is what I
WALLACE: But when says that these are cheap shots and you are wrong--
CHENEY: Obviously, I disagree with him.
WALLACE: Anything you want to take back?
WALLACE: Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, I
don't know if you know this, has also said weighed in. He says that you
are worried about being tried as a war criminal?
CHENEY: Well, that's news to me. I don't pay a lot of attention to
Mr. Wilkerson. I don't know him. As far as I know, I never met the
gentleman. I know he speaks out from time to time, and that strikes me
as a cheap shot.
WALLACE: Your head is not going to explode?
WALLACE: OK. Almost three years into his term, what do you think
of Barack Obama as president?
CHENEY: I disagree with him on a great many issues. I supported
John McCain and I did not support Barack Obama when it was time to make
that choice in 2008.
I think he has been not very effective frankly, especially in the
economic arena. I think we are faced with terrible economic problems
today and huge long-term debt problem that' measurably worse on his
watch and serious, serious unemployment problem, millions of Americans
out of work and in spite of a lot of bold talk, we haven't seen the kind of action that's is required to get the economy moving again and restore growth and hope and prosperity that all of us depend upon.
WALLACE: Obama is making a speech to the Congress, to nation next
Thursday, a new plan to turn around the economy. Based on what you've
heard, based on what he's done, what are your thoughts?
CHENEY: Well, I haven't seen what's going to be in that plan yet.
WALLACE: Supposedly, infrastructure, extending pay roll cuts. More
of the same.
CHENEY: Sounds like it.
I don't think it will get the job done. I think we need a very,
very serious effort, primarily through tax policy to provide incentives
and encouragement for people to save and invest and expand their
businesses and to create more jobs. The kind of thing we did in the
early Reagan years, 30 years ago. I think that's essential.
I think we need to significantly reduce the regulatory burden on the
private sector. The Obama administration is doing the opposite. They're
loading on more and more regulation on the private respect to how the
economy functions. We need to have a pro-growth policy put in place
that offers people hope and offers the opportunity for businesses to
expand and for them to have confidence in what the world is going to
look like for the next two or three or four years with respect to
Right now, they don't have it and it's not clear to me that the
speech that President Obama is going to give this week will provide it.
I hope it does, But I remain to be convinced.
WALLACE: Do you think that Hillary Clinton would have been a better
president than Barack Obama?
CHENEY: I am not sure I would have ever said that. Perhaps she
might have been easier for some of us who are critics of the president
to work with, but you know --
WALLACE: Why do you say that?
CHENEY: Well, just the sense -- I have a sense that she's one of
the more competent members of the current administration and it would be
interesting to speculate about how she might to perform where she to be
WALLACE: Do you think the Democrats would have been better off in
2012 with Hillary Clinton as the nominee?
CHENEY: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to discourage good primary
contest on their side, but I don't want to be the position of endorsing
Hillary Clinton. That might be the kiss of death for her.
The fact is I'll be support the Republican nominee and I think we
got good candidates that will are going to mount an effective campaigns
against the Obama administration. I don't have any reason to believe
that Hillary Clinton is interested in running. But she does.
WALLACE: You wouldn't discourage it?
CHENEY: No. Certainly not. I think it would be good for the Tea
WALLACE: Last year, speaking of Republicans, last year, you
endorsed Kay Bailey Hutchison for governor of Texas against the
incumbent governor, Rick Perry, who'd been serving in that roll for 10
years. And you said this. "Westerners know the difference between a
talker and the real deal. If Rick Perry wasn't right to be governor of
Texas, why should he be president?"
CHENEY: Well, I haven't endorsed anybody for president yet. I
supported Kay Bailey endorsed. We've been friends for a long time. I
have known Kay since we worked in the Ford administration many hears go
a long time.
And when she decided to run for governor, she asked me to support
her and I did. It was not any commentary on Governor Perry. It was
WALLACE: You clearly thought she was a better candidate than
CHENEY: That's correct and she ran in the primary and she lost.
WALLACE: But does that, why did you think that Perry was not as
good of a candidate?
CHENEY: Well, I didn't know him the way I worked in with -- Kay Bailey.
WALLACE: There's a lot of talking that in the Bushes really like
CHENEY: I do like meeting. He's a very able guy, watch what he did
with the Olympics in Utah, the Winter Olympics, I thought he was a good
Again, I haven't endorsed him, haven't endorsed anybody else. Don't
expect I will any time soon.
CHENEY: We'll see what develops in the primaries and who emerges
from that process.
And I do expect, in the end, I'll support the Republican nominee for
WALLACE: Do you worry at all that Obama is vulnerable, very
vulnerable, some way, but that the Republicans with this push from the
Tea Party may end up nominating somebody who will have difficulty moving
back to the center in the general election and winning independent votes?
CHENEY: That's not quite the way I think, Chris. My belief is,
that I think the Tea Party folks have had a significant positive
affect. I think they have in fact, sort of put on the national agenda
in no uncertain terms, this whole question of our debt and deficit. I
think members of Congress are paying a lot of attention as they should,
and I would expect that they will continue to have a role to play and
they represent a significant body of opinions across the country and
badly wants the government to get its act together with respect to
spending. I think that's a plus.
WALLACE: One last area I want to get into with you back when you
were President Ford's chief-of-staff in the '70s -- you were kind of a
press favorite. You used to pal around with the press.
And now, I think it's fair to say you're seen by the mainstream
media as suspicious, even hostile towards them. Has you opinion of the
media, of the mainstream media changed over the years? And if so, why?
CHENEY: I don't think it's changed. I had different roles. When I
was White House chief-of-staff, I spent a lot of time with the press on
the background basis, rarely got quoted. But I was in a position to be
able to help explain administration policy to my friends in the press
corps. As vice president I wasn't. And that was the kind of a just
I made a decision sometime ago I was not going to run for president
myself, I wasn't going to worry about what people in Iowa might say
about my conduct as vice president. It's also true that I was a staunch
advocate of the very controversy of policies, terrorist surveillance
program and enhanced interrogation techniques out of the deep conviction on my part that we badly needed those to succeed in the war on terror. I'm proud of those policies but I couldn't talk about those either. And so, the network is always I think -- the press felt maybe neglected by me. But it wasn't because I didn't care for the press, I'd just that I had to be more discreet than before.
WALLACE: But I want to press this. I don't know you've seen this,
I was watching your interview on "The Today" show earlier this week.
And I don't even know if you're aware of this, I want to show you. Take
a look at how it ended.
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MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Thank you for being with us this morning. I
CHENEY: Matt, I enjoyed it.
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CHENEY: Investigate Cheney.
WALLACE: What do you make of that? I mean, I somehow doubt that if
Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were speaking, they would have taken the shot and then suddenly have person with a sign would have been putting their pictures in.
Simply, do you think there was a liberal bias in the mainstream media?
CHENEY: I think there probably is. But I -- I don't spend time
worry being it. I think those of us right-thinking conservatives find
that there are a lot of outlets out there now in the media, on the
Internet, that give us ample opportunity for our points of view to get
across and to be heard. It is kind of a situation with respect to my
own circumstance, there are a lot of people out there who don't like me, don't like what I did in public life, disagree fundamentally with my views it's OK. It's a democracy.
I don't need or I didn't need 100 percent to prevail. I only needed
50 percent plus one. And I am not trying to impress anybody what a
great candidate I make because running I don't plan to be a candidate.
WALLACE: Later in the program, we'll have more with the vice
president. Some surprising about his health, the big decision he'll
have to make, and how he hopes his countrymen will remember him.
But coming up, President Obama and his Thursday speech to Congress
about how to get Americans back to work. We'll ask our Sunday group
what he needs to say to help the economy and his own political fortunes.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a lot of talk in Washington these days about creating jobs. But it doesn't help when folks risk losing jobs because of political gamesmanship.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: More stimulus
spending, short term gimmicks, higher taxes, more regulation -- we have
seen all of this before and it has failed.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
WALLACE: President Obama and House Speaker Boehner is setting the
stage for what should be an interesting if not necessarily productive
joint session of Congress this week.
And it's time now for our Sunday group.
Bill Kristol of the "Weekly Standard." Mara Liasson of National
Public Radio. Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican state leadership
committee, and Kirsten Powers, columnist for "The Daily Beast" web site.
So, Bill, given that the president is not going to suddenly turn
into a conservative supply side overnight -- what could he say on
Thursday that could actually work to help with the economy,
realistically, that that he might say? And secondly, do you see this
primarily as an economic speech or more as a political speech to try to
set the terms of the debate for the 2012 election?
BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: On the latter question, it's a
political speech quite clearly and quite obviously, even the White House
makes clear that this an attempt to lay out an agenda which much of it
the Republican Congress won't accept. So, the Obama administration can
try to blame what would be very slow, very unfortunate economic results
over the next year I suspect on the Republican Congress.
So, I think it's mostly a political speech. There will be some
things that he'll propose that I suppose the Republican Congress and
Democrat Senate, Republican House to Democratic Senate, might pass some
of the things that they won't.
But I don't think he'll do any of the major reforms that will be
needed to really get the economy going.
WALLACE: Just a chance?
KRISTOL: Well, fundamental tax reform, fundamental entitlement
reform -- all the things need to be done to rally change what's a very
bad economic situation.
WALLACE: Mara, we have -- we think at least we, at least the
outlines of the Obama job's plan and some extension of tax incentives
and new incentives to try to get businesses hiring, some more spending
for infrastructure on schools and roads, things like that -- is that
enough, given the grand stage of a joint session of Congress, or does he
risk the danger that it will look terribly anticlimactic? And do you
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I think the president
has to give a speech that's bigger than what you just mentioned. He --
the bar is that he has to lay out a program that ordinary people and
economist agree. If enacted, it would actually do something about the
jobless rate. And the things that Bill mentioned are really important.
LIASSON: And I think the president does have to talk about
fundamental tax reform and deficit reduction. However, those are
long-term things. Those aren't things that are going to change the
jobless rate today.
He has to lay out a program that would help right now if it was
enacted. Now, it's not going to be enacted, so, by definition, that's a
political speech. He's going to have to lay it out and fight for it,
and I think this will be his economic platform for the 2012 election.
WALLACE: While the president's numbers are bad, Congress' numbers
are even worse. And let's put them on the screen.
According to the latest Fox News poll, 35 percent now approve -- 35
percent of the president's handling of job creation, while 60 percent
disapprove. But when asked who is responsible for the current economy,
60 percent say uncompromising lawmakers, 46 percent still say President
Bush, and 28 percent say Mr. Obama.
Ed Gillespie, if the president offers a package that could be seen
particularly by Independents as reasonable and positive, do Republicans
risk rejecting it, that they will be seen as the obstructers, which
clearly is a story line that some people believe?
ED GILLESPIE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN STATE LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE: Well,
it depends on how they reject it. I mean, I think that Republicans have
sent forward already out of the House of Representatives 30 bills so far
to try to repeal some of the job- killing mandates and regulations that
this administration has put forward.
The president, in this recent decision on ozone, has demonstrated
some interest maybe in pulling back some of these regulations. So --
WALLACE: Let me just quickly point out that the president overruled
his EPA and shelves and regulations on smog pollutants that businesses
were complaining were going to cost a lot of money.
GILLESPIE: So if they can find some common ground on some of these
things, I think that would be helpful. But the bottom line is, Chris,
at the end of the day, come next November, it's the president's job
approval number that's going to be the biggest factor in the elections,
not the approval number for Congress.
Congress is divided. Disapproval of Congress could be disapproval
of Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate, or John Boehner and the
Republicans in the House. But the bottom line is there's not going to
be a lot of split-ticket voting next November, I don't think. And so,
really, what matters is, where is the president's job approval number?
But, that said, I think it's very important that Republicans continue to
demonstrate their willingness to work with the president on areas where
they can find agreement to create jobs.
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think that's
right. The president is not running against Congress. So, what matters
more is whether he can lead this -- -
WALLACE: But presidents have -- I mean, Harry Truman, most famously
-- have run against do-nothing or obstructionist Congresses.
POWERS: Yes, but I think ultimate, you can run on that, but
ultimately, the people are going to hold you accountable for where the
country is. And so, are you going to be able to do something that's
going to change the fundamental dynamics?
In terms of him talking about other bigger-issue things like
entitlement reform and corporate tax reform, the White House has said
there is going to be another speech. He's just not doing it as part of
the jobs speech. He wants this speech on Thursday to be just
specifically about jobs, and then later they have plans to do something
that will lay out more deficit reduction steps. I think that he may
talk about in this speech setting a higher goal for this super committee
in terms of deficit reduction, but they don't want to muddy the waters
with two messages in the same speech.
WALLACE: You know, it's interesting. And I don't have to tell you,
Bill, that political reporters are all frustrated, policy people. We all
think if we were taking -- took our advice, just as I think if you
really wanted to propose comprehensive immigration reform, you have to
do establish your bona fides that you're going to do something about the
border first, it seems to me that the president would have a much better
chance of getting short-term stimulus through if he were to make the
argument that, I'm really serious about long-term deficit reduction.
I think it's a mistake to separate the two. If he were to say, I'm
going to come out with a plan, and we're going to do this in
entitlements and we're going to do this on spending and we're going to
do this on tax reform, I think short-term stimulus would have a better
KRISTOL: I'd go even further. The only form of -- the only thing
that will help in the short term at this point is long-term reform.
We have tried a million short-term reforms -- Cash for Clunkers,
short-term stimulus, have some spending deregulation (ph). It doesn't
help. The problems are deeper than that.That, I think is the
fundamental truth that this president isn't addressing, which is ironic,
because he ran against the establishment and he ran for hope and
change. But the kinds of changes he's proposing are too limited.
And the trouble with all the short-term changes -- and I think this
should be a Republican theme over the next years -- it doesn't work.
You move up spending from this quarter to that quarter.
You suspend one EPA regulation, but if all businesses think that in
2013, if re-elected, President Obama is going to restore that
regulation, they are not going to invest. So, the long-term reforms are
the solution even in the short and median term. And that, I think, is
the mistake that the Obama administration doesn't understand.
WALLACE: Mara, before we end this segment, I just want to put up on
the screen a chart that shows how this recession compares to others.
And the one down there at the bottom is the current recession. The
other you see in the '80s and the early 2000s.
As you can see, the job losses have been much worse this time, and
the recovery, if you can call it that, has been much slower. And my
question to you, Mara, is this: I know the president is going to say
that he inherited a mess, I know he's going to blame it on President
Obama. I know that they will demonize whoever the Republican nominee is.
Guys, can you put that chart back on the screen? Because I really
think it's dramatic. It was on the front page of "The New York Times"
There you see it. How do you get reelected with that?
LIASSON: Well, that's his problem right there on the screen. And
it's really hard.
You know, people are fond of saying no one has been reelected with 9
percent unemployment. No one has run for reelection for 9 percent
unemployment since FDR.
This has never happened before. We don't know. It's going to be
And the point that Bill is making about the long term helping the
short term, I agree. As soon as they have a long-term real credible
plan in place for fundamental structural reform in all those areas,
you're going to get this incredible boost from the international
investing community and the markets.
But he has to make a very complicated argument, and I think he
should have made it a year ago. He's done bits and pieces of it, but
never put them together, which is we have a short-term problem which is
the jobless recovery, we've got to do something about that right now, at
the same time we do serious, long-term structural reform.And he
has to understand why those -- explain why those two things fit
together. He doesn't have to say exactly what he wants to do about the
Medicare retirement age on Thursday night, but he does have to lay out
why those two things are connected.
WALLACE: All right.
We have to take a break here, but when we come back, the 2012
Republican presidential race. Rick Perry tops the polls and faces his
first debate this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Career politicians got us
into this mess and career politicians won't get us out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot concede
the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That was the two front-runners for the Republican
presidential nomination this week framing their lines of against each
other and President Obama.
And we're back now with the panel.
Well, Texas Governor Rick Perry faces a big hurdle this week, his
first debate with his Republican rivals. And there's a new Fox poll
which shows both his strengths and also some potential problems.
As you can see here, among the announced candidates, Perry has now
surged into the lead seven points ahead of the former front- runner,
Mitt Romney. But among all voters, not just Republicans, 14 percent say
Perry is too extreme.
So, Ed Gillespie is an expert on all things Republicans.
How do you expect Perry to deal, particularly with some of his
earlier statements and policies, which is why some people see him as too
GILLESPIE: Well, he's going to have ample opportunity over the next
few months in the run-up to actual voting in Iowa with these debates.
And I think that, obviously, it's a very fluid race, still, to this
day. I think that's why you see Governor Perry, when he got in -- I
don't think anyone should be surprised -- he's a very formidable
candidate in the Republican primary contest. But over the next few
months, Republicans and general election voters as well are going to be
watching these debates and forming conclusions, and he will have a
chance to prove his mettle there.
WALLACE: But while it certainly shows he's formidable, I take it
you don't take it that seriously, that suddenly he's seven points ahead
of Mitt Romney in September of 2011?
GILLESPIE: I take it seriously, but I think it's a long way out.
And we've had a number of folks who jumped to the front of the line and
then faded, come back in.
We saw in the last election, Senator McCain was up and then he was
down. And then he was --
GILLESPIE: So this will play out for a while, and I think it's good
for the party. I think it's good for the Republican Party to have a
vigorous primary. And the more the merrier to bring people into the
process on our side.
WALLACE: But, Kirsten, over the years, and particularly -- I love
this book from just last year, "Fed Up," which the Perry camp is now
acting as if he's been misquoted in his own book, which Charles Barkley
famously said in his own autobiography, Perry has called Social Security
a failure, he's objected to the income tax, he called for the state
legislators to elect senators, not directly.
How does he finesse those past comments, or is it just stuff that
he'll sit here and say, well, I thought that, I don't think that that
POWERS: Well, I think we often see people who are running in both
parties who are as seen as being too extreme to the right or the left,
and usually what happens is, once they -- if they end up being the
nominee, they just start pretending like they never said them and keep
steering people back to, well, now this is what I think.
I mean, remember Barack Obama was the most liberal person in the
world, then he becomes the nominee and he starts tacking to the middle.
I think that that's what Perry would do if he becomes the nominee.
WALLACE: Do you see anything either in his record or his statements
that you think really is going to be a problem for Rick Perry?
POWERS: People point out the things about him talking about
seceding from the country and things like that.
WALLACE: This is after Obamacare.
POWERS: Yes. But I tend to think that those people overstate how
important those kinds of things are.
At the end of the day, what people are going to care about is the
economy and whoever they feel is going to be the person who is going to
be able to get the country back on track, and they're not going to be so
focused on these other things. I mean, he's going to have answer for
the things that he said, but I assume he's going to say what people will
want to hear, which is they don't want Social Security abolished, for
WALLACE: Bill, speaking of the economy, the other front-runner,
former front-runner, whatever you want to call him, Mitt Romney, is
making his big economic speech on Tuesday, laying out a plan that he
himself says will be bold and sweeping.
What does he need to do now. Does he need to go after Perry? Should
he just sort of wait to see if Perry hurts himself, or let some of the
other more conservative candidates who are being overshadowed by Perry
go after him?
Where does Romney -- he's had a pretty easy run of it so far. He's
been able to just kind of soar above the field.
KRISTOL: I think he has to lay out the agenda for the country,
which he hasn't done yet. I don't criticize him for that. It's been
early, but now is the moment.
I think in the normal course of things, Rick Perry now will be the
Republican nominee. He is the three-term governor of Texas, a
conservative state. He's been a successful governor.
Texas has job growth, the rest of the country has lost jobs. He's a
populist, which is very much in the spirit of the Republican Party
today. Mitt Romney is the one-term governor of Massachusetts whose
health care plan isn't popular with Republicans.
So, if you just have a normal race, so to speak, if neither
candidate does badly in the debates, if voters just get to know them and
looks the way I just described, Perry is the more normal victor. So,
Romney has to change that dynamic, I think.
He has to stop thinking as a front-runner or as a former front-
runner, and he has to say, you know what? I've done a lot of things in
my life, but I now understand we need bold change. And I'm not just
going to change the policies of the last two years, I'm going to change
the policies of the last 10 years.
He's got to really -- I mean, Ronald Reagan -- everyone appeals to
Reagan in 1980. Reagan ran against Carter, but he also ran against the
Republican establishment. He ran against Ford. He ran against
Kissinger, he ran against Ford, he ran against conventional Republican
I think the Republican nominee in 2012 will be like Reagan in that
respect, too. He won't be just a critic of the incumbent Democratic
administration, he will be a critic of the last Republican administration.
WALLACE: Before I bring you in, Mara, let's just pick up on that
for a second, because your definition, if it were a normal race, Perry
would win, I think you would have said at the same point four years ago,
if it's a normal race, Hillary Clinton beats Barack Obama. And Barack
Obama clearly tried to portray it as she represented the past and he
represented the future.
Are you saying, in effect, that's what Romney has to try to do to
KRISTOL: Or anyone else. I mean, if Perry were to stumble, I think
there would be still room for someone else to come. But I think the
bolder agenda will win in the Republican race, not the more timid, I'm
more reassuring than this guy agenda.
LIASSON: Well, I agree with that, but to be an anti- establishment
figure I think is a leap for Mitt Romney. Every pore of his being
exudes establishment. And Rick Perry has skillfully over the years
created this anti-Washington, anti-establishment persona for himself,
and he is in tune with the base of the party on that.
I thought what was interesting is the clip you played earlier about
Mitt Romney attacking career politicians. Who he was talking about was
obviously Rick Perry, who has been in office I think since 1984, but
when NPR interviewed people in that crowd, in that speech, they pointed
to Romney as the career politician because he looked like one. And I
think that's going to be a tough charge for him to make stick.
WALLACE: And also, if he had been more successful in 1994 and 2008
LIASSON: Yes. He would have been in office just as long.
WALLACE: -- he would have been a career politician. He just failed
WALLACE: Let me talk about one other person, and that is Sarah
Palin, who once again showed up in Iowa this week, Ed, spoke in a Tea
Here's a taste of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FMR. ALASKA GOVERNOR: This is why we must remember
that the challenge is not simply to replace Obama in 2012, but the real
challenge is, who and what we will replace him with, because it's not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Any idea what Sarah Palin is up to?GILLESPIE: I
don't know what the former governor is going to decide. She will be a
factor, I think, whether she gets in or whether she doesn't, as we just
She's not a candidate right now, but clearly shaping the debate. And
I have to say, the message that she talked about in Iowa, this crony
capitalism, is, I think, an underutilized discussion point and critique
for Republicans. The fact is, Barack Obama is moving our economy away
from an economy where what you know matters to who you know matters
more. And we look at the --
WALLACE: But wait. That's a criticism that's been leveled at Rick
Perry, too, that he did that in Texas. And, in fact, there's a story in
one of the papers today shows all of his big contributors and what they
GILLESPIE: Well, look, you know, every governor's job is to try to
bring jobs into their state. I'm talking with President Obama, when you
look at, for example, the health care waivers for the mandates, 1,700 of
them have been granted. We have no idea how they were granted or what
were the conditions of those grant, but we know that 50 percent of them
went to union employees, when they're only seven percent of the private
When you Cylinder story about this solar panel company that went
WALLACE: This is --
GILLESPIE: -- a $535 million loan guarantee we're on the hook for
as taxpayers. And one of the biggest beneficiaries of that is one of
his biggest donors. The fact that they're still talking about this rule
where, if you're going to get a federal contract, you have to tell us
who you gave money to, whether it was the National Right to Life
Committee or Center for American Progress.
We just would like to know before we give this contract. She is on
to something here that I think the party needs to pick up on.
WALLACE: You see, that's why Ed Gillespie is so good, because he
turned that into a screed against Barack Obama. That was very well done.
GILLESPIE: My point is her message is resonant in --
WALLACE: I'm not saying you were wrong.
GILLESPIE: -- and will shape the debate.
WALLACE: I just said it was very skillful.
OK. We've got about 30 seconds left.
Bill Kristol, you're one of the people who got Sarah Palin on the
national stage. Any idea what she is up to? I mean, is she running?
Does she want to shape the debate? Does she just like attention?
KRISTOL: No idea. But crony capitalism is the right message, I
think, for the Republican Party. And frankly, Ed can't (ph) say this.
It has to be a criticism of the Obama administration and also a
criticism of the Bush administration.
WALLACE: And Rick Perry?
KRISTOL: Well, Rick Perry could be attacked on those grounds, but
he could also say, you know what? I was a good governor of Texas, we
had job growth, I'm not going to do it the way Bush or Obama did it.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next week.
Up next, former Vice President Cheney talks candidly about his
health and his legacy.
WALLACE: When we talked this week with former Vice President
Cheney, we also asked him about his very serious health issues. As
you'll see, our conversation turned surprisingly personal.
WALLACE: You revealed in your book that last summer, you were
ending what you call end stage heart failure, and that doctors installed
a pump in your heart. And you say in the book that you were unconscious
for weeks. Why?
RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The
surgery was done on an emergency basis. I had reached the point where
my liver and my kidney and so forth were shutting down because of a lack
of blood flow to the heart. The heart was so weak after five heart
attacks, that it simply wasn't able to move an adequate volume of blood
to supply all of my vital organs.
The solution for that was to install what's called a HeartMate II.
It's a pump that supplements the heart.
We don't artificial hearts yet, but this goes a long way towards
restoring that basic flow. And I went through that surgery, nine hours
one night, came out of it on a respirator, heavily sedated. I
contracted pneumonia, so I spent about nearly five weeks in the ICU on
respirators, heavily sedated, as a result of that. And the --
WALLACE: Heavily sedated so they could deal with the pneumonia?
CHENEY: Well, with everything. With getting my -- getting the
pneumonia cleared up, getting me back to the point where I could breathe
on my own and begin the recovery process.
WALLACE: So you weren't in a coma. You basically were --
CHENEY: Deliberately sedated. They wanted me sedated, out of
it WALLACE: I'm sure a lot of people are saying absolutely.
You're 70 years old. You've had five heart attacks. In your
book, you say, "I have some medical decisions to make in the future,"
WALLACE: What choices?
CHENEY: Well, one of the questions is whether or not I want to go
for a heart transplant. The equipment that I wear was originally put
together as a transition device to keep somebody going until they could
get a transplant. Now it's gotten good enough that a lot of people live
on it for years. I haven't made a decision what I'm going to do yet,
but that's one of the options I'll have to look at down the road.
WALLACE: When you say it's a choice, if a transplant would keep you
alive longer, and if you're eligible for it, why wouldn't you have one?
CHENEY: Well, that's a subject I would discuss that with my
doctors, Chris. And then you will be the first to know after I have
weighed those options and decisions.
WALLACE: I doubt that.
What do you hope -- and I hope you lead a very long and happy life,
and I hope you fish a lot on the Snake River.
CHENEY: So do I.
WALLACE: What do you hope that people will remember, and not just
about these last eight years, but about your years, your decades of
service to our nation sir?
CHENEY: I feel especially good about what the president and I were
able to do during the most recent administration with respect to keeping
the nation safe in the face of the kind of hostility obviously that
contributed to 9/11. We had seven-and-a-half years where we kept all
further mass casualty attacks against the United States away from us,
kept the country safe and secure, and that was a major accomplishment.
Nobody would have believed on 9/12 that that was a possibility.
Beyond that, I was enormously blessed to have the opportunity to
serve as much as I did. I came to town to stay 12 months over 40 years
ago, and I got to do everything from serve as chief of staff to the
president, secretary of the defense, 10 years in Congress. It was a
I worked with some fantastic people, got to spend a lot of time with
the U.S. military, and that as fine a group of people as you're going to
meet any place. So I look back on that time -- first of all, it went
very fast. But secondly, I would say I loved every minute of it.
WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, we want to thank you so much for
talking with us. And I want to thank you for your service to our nation
CHENEY: Thank you, Chris. Enjoy the show.
WALLACE: Again, Dick Cheney's new book is called "In My Time." And
as someone who has had to slog through a lot of political memoirs, I can
tell you, it is a very good read.
Up next, a note about next week's special program.
WALLACE: And now a special program note.
Next Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We'll
have live coverage from the ceremonies in New York, Pennsylvania, and
the Pentagon. And our guests will include former defense secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; and the
chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.
And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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