Vice President Dick Cheney (search) has agreed to be President Bush's running mate in 2004, saying past health problems won't prevent him from being on the next presidential ticket.

"The president has asked me if I would serve again as his running mate. I've agreed to do that," he said Tuesday in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.

Cheney and several aides were flying back from Dallas on Wednesday and unavailable for comment

But his comments cemented a commitment Cheney all but made in August, when he said he would serve if asked.

"If the president is willing and if my wife approves, and if the doctors say it's OK, then I'd be happy to serve a second term," Cheney told the Commonwealth Club of California then.

In November, Bush said he wanted his vice president to reprise his role, saying "there's no reason for me to change."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said he did not know precisely when Bush had personally asked Cheney to run with him again. He called the request "a formality."

The position of Cheney, 61, on the 2004 ticket has been the subject of speculation because of his heart condition. He has had four heart attacks, though none as vice president.

"I've got a doc with me 24 hours a day who watches me very carefully," said Cheney. "If I ran into problems where I felt I couldn't serve, I'd be the first to say so and step down."

More recently, Cheney's value has been questioned because of his connection to a corporate accounting scandal. The Securities and Exchange Commission (search) is investigating accounting practices at Halliburton (search) Co. while Cheney was its chief executive officer.

Cheney said he did not know when Bush would formally announce his candidacy.