D'Amato to Bush: Drop Cheney

President Bush should consider dumping Vice President Dick Cheney (search) from the Republican ticket this year, an influential former GOP senator said Wednesday.

Alfonse D'Amato (search) said Bush should consider putting Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) or Sen. John McCain (search) of Arizona on the GOP ticket.

There was no immediate comment from the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Bush has long maintained he wants Cheney to be his running mate.

The D'Amato advice came one day after Bush's Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry (search), announced he had selected Sen. John Edwards (search) to be his running mate.

"Let me note that Vice Prble, and patriotic American, a man of great intellect, who has served the president and the nation with dedication," D'Amato said in a statement released by his office. "But we should make no mistake, we are a nation at war with a vicious terrorist foe, and in war hard decisions must be made."

"As an observer of politics, I believe the president can guarantee his essential re-election by looking to several other notable individuals who would add a great dimension to his ticket as a running mate," the New York Republican added.

Placing Powell "first and foremost" on his wish list to replace Cheney, D'Amato said the retired general "would help galvanize the nation and offer a truly historic opportunity for American unity and pride."

McCain, said D'Amato, is "a genuine American hero who would also help bridge the political divide in our nation and assure the president's re-election by a wide margin."

"While I believe George Bush will win re-election even without this bold stroke, he will insure a broader, deeper, more resonant reaffirmation of his leadership if he places his duty to continue as president above any one individual," D'Amato said.

"The president deserves more than simple re-election," the former senator added. "He deserves a mandate to continue to lead this nation to peace and prosperity."

D'Amato, who is now a highly successful lobbyist and consultant, first raised the possibility of Bush dropping Cheney from the GOP ticket in an interview Tuesday night with the NY 1 cable news channel in New York City. D'Amato is a regular commentator for NY 1.

In his NY 1 appearance, D'Amato said that while he realized his comments would "shock Republicans and probably get them angry," he said, "I think we can do better."

The former senator said he believed Powell would run with Bush if the position was offered to him.

That, said D'Amato, "would change politics in America for the better."

"Instead of millions of African-Americans having their votes taken for granted or just saying, 'Republicans don't care about us, they don't reach out to us,' this would send an incredible signal," D'Amato said. "It would turn many of the battle (ground) states into tremendous wins for Republicans."

D'Amato said McCain, who had been unsuccessfully courted by Kerry as a running mate, would help the GOP win votes from independents and conservative "Reagan Democrats."

D'Amato, who lost his Senate seat in 1998 to Democrat Charles Schumer, is a political mentor to New York Gov. George Pataki, who is considered a potential 2008 GOP presidential candidate.