This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Oct. 20, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mr. Vice President, good to see you.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sean, it's good to be here.
HANNITY: You're in the home stretch?
CHENEY: We are. We've got two weeks to go and it's an exciting time.
HANNITY: Well, here you are in the all-important swing state of Ohio.
HANNITY: You're looking at the polls every day. You're doing your own internal tracking. Are you happy with the numbers?
CHENEY: I am. I think that coming off the debates that we've turned the corner and it appears we've got some momentum now. You see it in the national surveys that range from two to three up to as much as seven or eight points up.
And so I think things look good. But given what happened last time — how close that election was — we won't take anything for granted.
HANNITY: We don't want to go through that again.
CHENEY: We'll go flat out right down to the last voter.
HANNITY: The president yesterday mentioned the shameless scare tactics that are being used by the Democrats and more particularly John Kerry, who is now out on the stump, regularly saying that there's a big January surprise.
HANNITY: If you guys are re-elected, you will privatize Social Security.
CHENEY: it's wrong. It's just dead wrong. But the amazing thing is thing is the first campaign I was ever involved in was 1966. That's almost 40 years ago, and since then I've been White House chief of staffs through campaigns, and a cabinet member and I ran six times myself for Congress and so forth.
And when you get down to this stage of the campaign, and the opposition starts to try to frighten people on Social Security I know they're in trouble. But they've done it consistently over the years.
It's not true. It's a myth. The president has never suggested that he wants to do that at all, and anybody who wants to look at the facts can see them there. But it's part and parcel of what we've seen.
On the draft, for example, they've tried to do the same thing. The only people supporting a draft are two Democrats: Charlie Rangel and Fritz Hollings of South Carolina. They had a vote on it in the House last week. It only got two votes. Charlie Rangel didn't even vote for his own bill.
Nobody knows anything about the draft and about the all-volunteer force, and I spent four years as the Secretary of Defense. Nobody wants to go back to that. And these are all efforts on the part of the Democrats to — well, specifically John Kerry. He will literally say anything. And he's doing that as we come to the closing days of this campaign, trying to get something going on his side. But I think it's starting to affect how people look at him, because it raises questions of character, I think.
HANNITY: Do you say, though, under no circumstances draft? If we have a conflict with Iran, North Korea...
CHENEY: When I was secretary of defense, Sean, we had an active duty force of 2.1 million personnel. Reserves and Guard, another million on top of that, a far larger force than we've got today.
For example, today we've got an active duty force of about 1.4 million. We handle all of that just fine with an all-volunteer force. If we had to significantly expand the size of the U.S. military today, I'm absolutely convinced we'd do it the same way we have in the past, the all-volunteer force.
It's just fundamentally untrue. The president said it's untrue, anybody who knows about it...
HANNITY: So they're saying January surprise. Not true>? On Social Security? Not true on the draft?
HANNITY: And also John Kerry and through his surrogates, now more recently the Reverend Jessie Jackson, said that there is an orchestrated effort among Republicans to suppress the black vote.
CHENEY: It's just fundamentally untrue. It's another one of those lies, distortions. I've tried hard not to use that that word. A clear misrepresentation. Just an out and out effort to scare people.
HANNITY: Do you think they know that they're — I won't use the word lies. Do you believe John Kerry on the stump and John Edwards on the stump, when they bring up issues about a private plan of privatized Social Security, suppress the black vote or bring back the draft, do they know in their heart that that's not true?
CHENEY: I'm confident they do. I'm confident they do. And I'll say we've seen them in recent weeks in a number of different ways, their willingness to go and say absolutely anything to try to score points and garner support.
HANNITY: I want to show you this. This is from a group ACT. You've heard a lot about 527s; this is the Ickes one — I think Soros' money. It has as picture here of a fireman firing water at an African-American: "This is what they used to do to keep us from voting. This is how Republicans keep African-Americans from voting now."
CHENEY: And that's just an outrageous piece of trash. That's unbelievable. We're absolutely committed and working very hard to make certain that we get as many people as possible to get out to vote. If there's voter fraud of any kind then it ought to be prosecuted. I don't care who does it or for what purpose, what their motive is. But those kinds of tactics that are designed to frighten people clearly are unacceptable.
HANNITY: Yes. But they sent out this other thing in Colorado, just to give you — I brought another prop with me.
CHENEY: You've brought a lot.
HANNITY: I brought a lot of good ones here. A Colorado Election Day manual, and it's a voter intimidation guide, and they say that none exists. In other words, if you don't find any voter intimidation, launch a preemptive strike.
CHENEY: Claim that there's intimidation anyway.
HANNITY: Claim that there is.
CHENEY: Well, it's unfortunate. I really think that the American people are not at all served by those kinds of tactics. And I think frankly it will backfire on them. I think people look at that and see that kind of activity and know that these are probably not the kind of folks they want to support for public office.
HANNITY: One of the things both you and the president addressed is the issue of the tone in Washington during the debates, and I can't remember a time it's been this tough.
You have a former vice president, Al Gore, screaming at the top of his lungs that you and the president betrayed their country. You have 527 groups that compare the president to Hitler.
You guys reached out, tried to work with Ted Kennedy on education. Ted Kennedy has said the president's a liar who concocted a war for political gain. Howard Dean advanced a theory that the president knew about 9/11 ahead of time. Dennis Kucinich said you're targeting civilians for assassination.
These are top leading members of the Democratic Party throughout the last year and a half, saying these things about both you and the president. Does that affect you? Does that bother you? What do you say to them?
CHENEY: It does bother me. I think a number of those charges are beyond the pale. You know, politics is a tough business. It's not beanbag. And I've been involved in some hard-fought campaigns before.
This one has taken on a special note of intensity, and frankly, I think comments and statements that are over the top. We ought to have a good debate on the War on Terror, on the economy, on jobs, education, health care, all of these issues that are out there to be discussed. But you know, when you get into those kinds of comments that you cited, I think in many cases they are inappropriate.
HANNITY: Yes. When you look at John Kerry's comments, Mr. Vice President, in 2003, “Leaving Saddam Hussein unfettered with nuclear weapons or WMDs was unacceptable. Iraq's WMDs pose a real and grave threat to America.”
John Kerry said that in 2003.
I've gone back and I've been Lexis-Nexusing and searching a lot of the interviews. He has never been confronted with having made such a definitive statement. It seems that both you and the president bear the burden of pointing out the nature of that threat, the nuclear threat, the biological threat, the chemical threat. Has the press given him a pass?
CHENEY: Well, I think you've got to be discriminating when you characterize the press. I think you've got...
HANNITY: Because you're going to get hit back?
CHENEY: Well, you've got a wide variety of folks out there, and I don't know that it's fair to sort of characterize or categorize everybody over here in the same spot.
I think the fact of the matter is that John Kerry's got a record. It's there for all to look out. It's 20 years in the United States Senate and even before that when he first ran for Congress, for example, back in the ’70s. And it says a lot about how he would address the kinds of issues that the next president is going to have to address, whoever is president for the next four years.
HANNITY: Let me get into who do you think won the debates and do we put too much emphasis on debates in the presidential election season?
CHENEY: Pundits sit around and argue about who won the debate and try to judge it in connection with some sort of high school debating or college debating formula. I'm not sure that's the way the American people look at it.
And I think it's one of many factors. Debates are now a part of our culture. You can't have a presidential campaign now without a debate. I was there for Gerry Ford's debates with Jimmy Carter back in 1976. And I think sometimes they probably have had an impact on the course of the election.
But I think the American people look at the debates as just one of several factors that will influence their opinion and their judgment.
I think, frankly, the president did very well in the debates this year. And I think what we've seen in the aftermath of the final debate, the standing in the polls and so forth, that whatever assessment people made of John Kerry's performance, it was not essentially positive coming out of those debates.
HANNITY: The issue of your daughter came up in the final debate and it has been talked about extensively, as you know.
What was your first reaction when you heard it? And nobody has asked what was her reaction?
CHENEY: I thought it was over the top. I made that clear as a parent and a candidate. It was the idea of sort of unsolicited bringing up of my daughter in a way that appeared to be politically calculated to advance his interest during the course of the debate. That was the aspect of it that I think a lot of people found offensive.
Well, I don't know that there's anything more to be said about it.
HANNITY: Was that her reaction?
CHENEY: Mary is a private person. She's been very active in the campaign. I think she shared our sense that this was not appropriate.
But it's the first time I can recall where one presidential candidate tried to drag the family of another into it to make a political point, some kind of policy point in connection with the presidential debates. And it was that aspect of it that I think a lot of people were upset about.
HANNITY: In essence do you think that it was worse when they said that your daughter is fair game, which came out afterwards, or the comments of Mrs. Edwards, and what she said? Do you think they owe you an apology? Did that bother you more, what was said afterwards?
CHENEY: I think what it showed clearly was this whole thing was calculated. If you've got your campaign manager out there immediately after he's said it during the course of the final debate. And Mary Beth Cahill was on the tube saying Mary is fair game. It says to me they made a conscious decision that this was something they wanted to do and it was part of a political strategy. I think that's what we found offensive.
It's behind us now and we're moving on. I think a lot of people look at it and say it's just one more example of a candidate who's prepared to say anything in order to advance his political cause.
HANNITY: Let's talk about the comments of John Edwards after the death of Christopher Reeve, saying that if John Kerry is elected, people like Christopher Reeve, people in wheelchairs, et cetera, will get up and walk again?
CHENEY: I put it in the same category. I think you know, a great many Americans, all of us had great admiration and respect for Christopher Reeve, and the life he led after the tragic accident that he encountered.
But again, the idea that somehow George Bush was responsible for keeping Christopher Reeve confined to a wheelchair is sort of the flipside of that coin — over the top, out of bounds, beyond the pale.
I don't think that contributes anything to the debate and it's — holds out false hope. And Charles Krauthammer is a close friend of mine, a man who's had a similar accident, I thought, stated it very well, and he found it deeply offensive.
HANNITY: Yes, I thought that was stated very well.
We are less than two weeks out of an election. We saw what happened in Spain. How concerned are you? You get to see the intelligence reports every day, the briefings. Are you concerned that there are people outside of this country — or perhaps in this country — want to impact and influence this election and that would use some terror to accomplish that goal?
CHENEY: We have been concerned about that and we had some reporting in the past that they were at least contemplating trying to launch an attack, that they're certainly trying to launch additional attacks against the United States. We know we've been successful in disrupting those up to until now.
They also are very sensitive to political timetables. I think what they did in Spain pretty clearly was evidence that they had a calculated strategy to try to force the change in the Spanish government and to force the Spaniards out of Iraq, which they succeeded in doing.
I think we'll see the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they've got those elections scheduled and the progress towards democratically established governments. And they do everything they can to try to disrupt that process through bombs and intimidation and fear.
Will they try it in the United States? I think if they could get off a shot, I would expect they may well try it. But at this stage to say we've got specific evidence of an attack that's going to happen during a particular window, we can't say that.
HANNITY: We hear Vladimir Putin's comments about the disruption in Iraq certainly is designed to influence the election. Do you believe that?
CHENEY: I don't have hard evidence of that. I know and I'm fairly confident that, based on things we've seen, that they're very sensitive about trying to influence elections.
And they're in the business — if you think about their ultimate strategy, obviously, is to change government policy through violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, against innocent men and women.
That's what they're clearly doing in Iraq. That's what they did in Spain. I think that was their objectives with respect to 9/11, when they killed 3,000 of us that morning. And that their whole strategy is built around the concept of violence applied for political purposes. And I think that's the nature of the enemy we face.
HANNITY: You have spent almost a lifetime between Congress and defense secretary and now vice president: What do you think the odds are of something like what happened on 9/11 is going to happen again? How realistic is it that we turn on our televisions or radios and find out something has happened again?
CHENEY: I think we have to assume they will try to hit us again. Because you've got to remember this is a worldwide problem. The U.S. may be the No. 1 target, but we were struck a number of times during the '90s: '93 the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers in '96 in Saudi Arabia, '98 the east African embassies, USS Cole in 2000, World Trade Center in 2001.
We know from people we've captured and interrogated, plans we've captured, that in fact they'll try very hard to strike us again. That's just a given. And we do everything we can to improve our defenses here at home. We're doing that, but we also have gone on offense. And I think that's just vital to be successful here. A good defense isn't good enough. You've also got to have a good offense.
HANNITY: You have gotten a little bit of controversy in early September when you said if we make the wrong choice America could get hit again. How do you really feel?
CHENEY: The statement I made was that I think the key is to pursue this aggressive strategy, especially overseas, especially going after the terrorists and after those who sponsor terror. And if we don't do that then I think the likelihood that they'll hit us again will increase.
The threat will grow to the United States if we don't actively and aggressively go after them on their territory. The likelihood that they'll acquire deadlier weapons will increase. And for all of those reasons, I think we need a commander-in-chief who will pursue the right strategy. George Bush will. I don't believe John Kerry will.
He's got 20 years of votes in the United States Senate that are there for anybody to look at. And I think it's altogether proper to go look at those and say, “Well, this is what you said in the first Gulf crisis, this is how you voted then. You voted against the use of force then.”
Or to look at the way he's conducted himself during the course of this campaign, when he's been all over the lot with respect to the war in Iraq. He voted for it, he voted against weapons in support for the troops, the $87 billion and so forth.
All of that's relevant in making an assessment about whether or not this guy has the capacity to be an effective commander in chief.
HANNITY: Here you are, the vice president; give us a little insight, bring us into your world in terms of your relationship with the president. How often do you talk? How do you make decisions with each other? What kind of counsel does he seek from you?
CHENEY: He's an amazing guy. We didn't know each when his dad was president. But I was sort of across the river over running the Pentagon and the Defense Department. And I really got to know him when I moved to Texas in 1995. And he had just been sworn in as governor. He got elected in '94.
And we spent time together. He asked me to come down to Austin occasionally and I'd go down, and we'd have dinner and talk about various things. And then as he got closer and closer to the election, he asked me to consider becoming his running mate. Initially, I said no, but I'd do the search. Did the search, and he came back and said, "Look, you're the one I want," so I signed on.
It's been a very good decision for me. I've got enormous respect for the president, the way he operates. His deep convictions, his ability to sit down and look at a complex problem and make a decision and decide on a course of action and then pursue it.
HANNITY: Does he turn to you at the last minute and say, “What do you think?”
CHENEY: Sometimes. Basically the reason he asked me to sign on is, as he said was, "Look, I'm not worried about carrying Wyoming. We've got 70 percent of the vote there."
Of course, it did turn out we needed those three electoral votes, but that worked out in good shape.
He said he wanted me to be part of his team, part of the group that would help him govern, and that that was his objective in asking me, as somebody from a rather smallish state from a population standpoint. And he's been absolutely true to his word.
And so I get to offer up my advice on the issues of the day and I spend a lot of time, especially on national security and foreign policy, but also on Congress, tax policy, and the economy and so forth. And sometime he takes my advice; sometimes he doesn't.
But he's great about allowing me to sort of stick my oar in wherever I think I can be helpful. Sometimes he asks me to take on specific problems and go solve them for him. And I'm delighted to do all that.
This is the fourth president I've worked for. Each one of them has been unique. Each one of them has been sort of a different perspective, if you will, on the course of the history of the nation. But George W. Bush is a special man. I think he's a very good president, and I'm delighted to serve him.
HANNITY: You suggested the other night, under no circumstances would you consider running for president.
CHENEY: I thought about that at one point in my career Sean, back in 1994. I did all those things you'd want to do if you were thinking about running in '96. And I went out and did a lot of campaigning, raising money, had a political action committee and so forth. And concluded at the end of that time after I sat down and looked at it that I really didn't want to do those things I'd have to do. And I've had 25 great years in public life. So I left for the private sector, and it was the right decision for me.
Now I'm back, but I'm here simply because he asked me. I'm here to serve him. I think it's very important in terms of my effectiveness in our relationship that he knows the only agenda I have is his agenda. I'm not here worried about what I'm going to be able to do in the Iowa Caucuses in '08 as a candidate.
HANNITY: This is your last campaign. This is it?
CHENEY: This is my last campaign. I'm enjoying it very much, but I'm here, as I say, specifically because I believe in and support George W. Bush. And I think the country needs him for four more years. Not because I need the job or because I've got political aspirations of my own to run for higher office someday. I'm here to do whatever he needs to have done for the next four years. And then I've got a lot of streams I haven't fished and places I want to see yet. But I don't plan to continue in politics.
HANNITY: And you're healthy?
CHENEY: I'm healthy, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine. I've been very fortunate in my life that medical technologies kept pace with my disease, and coronary artery disease. And I've been blessed in many respects, and so I'm fortunate that I've been able to do and live a full and normal life in spite of it.
HANNITY: Mr. Vice President, thank you for your time.
CHENEY: Thank you.
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