WASHINGTON – Terrorist groups in Iraq are stepping up their efforts to spark more deadly sectarian violence as a way of influencing how Americans will vote on Nov. 7, Vice President Dick Cheney alleged Monday in a FOX News interview in which he warned Americans not to fall for suggestions the War on Terror is losing ground in Iraq.
"Whether it's Al Qaeda or the other elements that are active in Iraq, they are betting on the proposition they can break the will of the American people. They think we won't have the stomach for the fight long-term," Cheney told FOX News' Neil Cavuto.
Cheney added that terrorists are "very, very cognizant of our schedule if you will," though "they specifically can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have."
Cheney said the terrorists, who are sophisticated in their use of the Internet and know how to manipulate public opinion, are trying to win the War on Terror by demoralizing the U.S. public.
"They know that the way they win is if they can, in fact, force America to withdraw on the basis that we aren't going to stay and finish the job, their basic proposition that they can break the will of the American people. That's what they believe. And that's what they're trying to do," he said.
Cheney also was asked about comments he made last week on a North Dakota radio station in which he was asked whether he'd condone dunking a terror suspect in water if it would save lives — an interrogation torture technique known as waterboarding, which mimics drowning.
Cheney called it a "no-brainer."
Critics pounced on the vice president for suggesting that he sanctioned waterboarding. The detainee interrogation bill signed by the president last week prohibits CIA's use torture, but does not list waterboarding in a list of banned activities.
Asked again by FOX News whether the use of waterboarding was an appropriate interrogation tool, Cheney sidestepped the question by saying he does not discuss specific methods.
He also offered a positive outlook on the economy despite the latest reports that show some weakness in the housing sector, reduced gross domestic product last quarter and other indicators, and said economic successes would be endangered if Democrats take control after Nov. 7.
Hammering home a GOP theme, Cheney said the most liberal Democrats would be in charge if the House majority changes. He cited Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who is in line to take the chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee if Democrats win control of the House.
"Charlie has said there's not a single one of the Bush tax cuts he thinks should be extended. And he could achieve that objective simply by not acting. Unless there's an affirmative action by Congress, legislation passed to keep those rates low, those rates are going back up, and he'd have a massive tax increase," Cheney said.
As for his own future, Cheney did not budge on his position that he will not run for president if he were nominated and would not serve if elected.
The vice president did offer support for his wife, Lynne Cheney, who took on CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview last week that was supposed to be on the second lady's latest book.
Referring to a network special earlier this month that showed terrorists attacking U.S. forces, Lynne Cheney asked the anchor why the network was "running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans."
"Why are you running terrorist propaganda?" she asked.
Cheney said he didn't encourage his wife to take a stand, but that he was proud of her.
"I thought it was great. We refer to it around the house as the 'slapdown.' And she was very tough, but she was very accurate and very aggressive ... So she spoke her mind, and I thought it was perfectly appropriate," Cheney said.