What Does Dick Cheney Think About 2012 Candidates?

Former vice president weighs in on GOP presidential field


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, forget the ripping that Rick Perry took at last night's presidential debate.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney taking the Texas governor to task on my Fox Business show ahead of that debate. And, man, oh, man, he did not stop there.


CAVUTO: Vice President Cheney, do you think there is a conceivable way any of these Republican front-runners could screw this up?


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope not. Obviously, I'm Republican and I will support the Republican nominee.

CAVUTO: Any nominee?

CHENEY: Well, I will support the Republican nominee. I'm confident we'll nominate a worthy opponent for President Obama.

CAVUTO: What if it is Rick Perry?

CHENEY: I am not going to speculate. I haven't signed on with anybody yet. There is nothing to be gained by my speculating on --

CAVUTO: Sure. You and me talking. No open mics here.

CHENEY: Make a little bit of news, right, Neil?

CAVUTO: The reason I mention Rick Perry, I know you campaigned -- because you have a long history of working with her over the many, many years, Kay Bailey Hutchison, when she challenged him. And I know -- there is always -- I raised this will Karl Rove. I raised this with Jeb Bush when he was here. Is there bad blood between Governor Perry and either -- for want of a better term, all the Bushites?

CHENEY: I don't know. I don't know all that history. When I was in Texas, I wasn't involved in politics. It was after I left --

CAVUTO: Right.

CHENEY: -- that I got back involved again. So I don't know the details of the relationship. I wasn't hostile to Governor Perry, but Kay Bailey Hutchison was an old friend going to back to the Ford administration days. I promised that I would campaign for her when she ran. I went down and did an event for her, but it's not...

CAVUTO: You have seen him since, right?

CHENEY: No, really haven't. Haven't had any dealings with him.

CAVUTO: OK, because other people say he sounds a little reckless, treasonous talk about Ben Bernanke. What do you think?

CHENEY: Well, I wouldn't use language like that on any Fed chairman. Perfectly appropriate to have disagreements, but we try to set the role of the Federal Reserve chairman aside. He is independently selected, so to speak. He really does have independent authority. Good reasons for that. And we need to try to protect that.

We shouldn't use words like treason, I don't believe, when we talk about the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

CAVUTO: Just that a new candidate's naiveté?

CHENEY: Perhaps, perhaps.

CAVUTO: Yeah. You cut him a little slack on that?

CHENEY: Well, I haven't heard him do it recently.

CAVUTO: Mitt Romney, who you generally said glowing things about.

CHENEY: I like him.

CAVUTO: Jeb Bush said the same. He seems to be, among the party establishment, the guy. Is he?

CHENEY: Neil, let me explain once again. I haven't picked anybody. I haven't endorsed anybody. I'm watching the race with great interest. And at some point, I will either endorse or quietly vote for a candidate of my choice.

CAVUTO: I know I'm belaboring the point, sir. But I can't see you supporting a Ron Paul, who wants to pull up our troops from all over the world, who has been a big critic of the Iraq war, our incursion into Afghanistan. He says we even make a big deal if and when Iran gets nuclear weapons, that that is something for them to settle in that region.

You wouldn't support a nominee like that, would you?

CHENEY: There are nominees that I'm not enthusiastic about. They haven't gotten the nomination, not likely to get the nomination.

CAVUTO: So you're ruling Ron Paul out?

CHENEY: I'm ruling out the opportunity here today to indicate who I support.

CAVUTO: Michele Bachmann? Do you like Michele Bachmann?

CHENEY: I don't know her.

CAVUTO: Really? What about the Tea Party?

CHENEY: The Tea Party has played a useful role, in the sense that it has sort of put front and center the basic fundamental problem of our deficit spending of our long term debt, made it difficult for members of Congress to ignore that issue going forward. And in that regard, the Tea Party has helped shape the agenda that we're now having to wrestle with. And that is positive.

CAVUTO: Even though even some mainstream Republicans, Mr. Vice President, said they held the debt process hostage because it was their way or the highway. And of course, in the mainstream never mention those who wanted more spending could have similarly held it hostage.

Leaving that aside, that they could split Republicans apart and lead to a lot divisiveness, that would hand re-election to Barack Obama.

CHENEY: I don't know that is the case. Look, I think they clearly were a big help to us in 2010, helped us take back the House and make major gains in the House. I think we're going to make major gains in the Senate...

CAVUTO: You do?

CHENEY: ... in 2012. I do. We got a lot of those races out there. There are twice as many Democratic seats up as Republican seats. I think we have great potential there. The real battle obviously is going to be over who is president. And we won't know that for a while yet.

CAVUTO: Do you think we're heading into a recession?

CHENEY: It looks a lot like a double-dip recession, but I'm not an economist. And with...

CAVUTO: Looks like you're not a businessman.

CHENEY: With the last, employment numbers for last month, zero growth, real growth in terms of job creation, unemployment rate. We've got millions of Americans out of work, with little prospect of gaining any. We've got an administration that refuses to learn the lessons of their own experience. And what they're suggesting doesn't look like it is going to produce any bigger result than the last time they did it.

CAVUTO: The critics of the Bush-Cheney years, Mr. Vice President, were that you were no slouches on spending and that overall debt-to-GDP was climbing in your eight years. And that this set the stage for what he was coming into. So who are you to judge. What do you say?

CHENEY: Well, I don't buy that. We did have some additional spending we had to do. There was a little thing called 9/11. We had to move very aggressively in terms of it homeland security. Create a whole new department. We had military operations obviously in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the bottom line is, that the overall debt increase under Barack Obama's time in office exceeds the total amount that came on during the Bush administrations. The rate of increase is much greater with this administration than it has ever been. Numbers speak for that.

CAVUTO: Was the argument, I'm sorry, was the argument for that in order to get support for the war on terror you guys might have looked the other way when it came to spending restraint just to have support?

CHENEY: I don't think so. That's not the way I looked at it. But I think the bottom line when we start to talk about the huge debt problem that we've got over a long period of time is entitlements. That's the major area that we've got to address. I haven't heard anything out of this administration that begins to address that we had the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Did some pretty good work but it has been totally ignored by the administration.

CAVUTO: Bank of America today -- and while you don't -- properly, in your book, it focuses almost entirely on the war on terror and what the eight years of Bush-Cheney administration were defined by, but you do address the bailouts and the financial meltdown in 2008.

And the argument with Dodd-Frank afterwards, Mr. Vice President, we would never have too big to fail again. I want to raise a question with you, Bank of America, announcing 30,000 layoffs today. I can't imagine that our government would let Bank of America fail. It is too big to fail. What do you think?

CHENEY: I don't know. Neil, I'm, I can't give any guidance on that. I'm not familiar with the Bank of America. Circumstances --

CAVUTO: Obviously we rescued and you were grudgingly in support of the bailouts back then because you said our entire financial system was on the brink and this was something we had to do because capital I think, you said that had frozen completely. Other CEO's at the time agreed with you. Many did not.

CHENEY: Right.

CAVUTO: But if we were to face that again, wouldn't we, despite all the criticism you received back then, wouldn't we have to do the same thing again or would we?

CHENEY: I don't know. I felt, and I do, to this day, when we start to talk about the financial institutions, in our economy, the federal government has the prime responsibility in terms of regulating that sector of the economy, in terms of, maintaining the value of the dollar, currency, the Federal Reserve, Treasury and so forth, that is a federal function. There isn't anybody else in the country who can do that.

When you move over into commercial enterprises, manufacturing enterprises, like for example, the General Motors, I had more of a problem with that. There you have to let the market work. With respect to Bank of America, I simply don't know at this stage, what their circumstances are and, what I would do, if I were still there, is the first thing I would want to do is talk to the chairman the Federal Reserve, talk to the secretary of Treasury.

CAVUTO: Same people you guys were talking in '08.

CHENEY: Well, and we did get through a terrible crisis back then in terms of the financial markets and did get back on track.

CAVUTO: But you wrote in your book, sir, as did President Bush in his book how much that went against your gut and against your DNA. Nevertheless, you did it...

CHENEY: Right. Right.

CAVUTO: ... for whatever reasons people can quibble. But I'm just wondering, in retrospect, whether you let the genie out of the bottle and invited all the rescues and bailouts to come and set the stage for every time something hits the fan, Uncle Sam is in the backstop now?

CHENEY: As I say, I feel there's a difference, a distinction that needs to be made between on the one hand our financial institutions, basically govern our currency and so forth. That is absolutely crucial and a responsibility of the federal government. The rest of the economy is a separate proposition.

CAVUTO: Do banks then have an obligation once rescued to lend?

CHENEY: Well, again, I'm not, not an expert. I supported TARP. I thought TARP was...

CAVUTO: Ran Halliburton. You're not a dummy.

CHENEY: I ran Halliburton. I had some good people working for me.

CAVUTO: Right.


CHENEY: We were only in the oil business.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

CHENEY: The easy stuff.


CAVUTO: All right. So, among other things you might have gleaned in some of those interview highlights is, the vice president not enthusiastic about one Ron Paul.

What does Ron Paul have to say about that? The Republican presidential candidate will be here tomorrow.

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