Transcript: Mary Cheney on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Mary 14, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" CHRIS WALLACE: Joining us now to discuss growing up in the political spotlight is the author of a new book, "Now It's My Turn", Mary Cheney, daughter of the vice president.

Ms. Cheney, welcome to "Fox News Sunday".

MARY CHENEY: Thanks. Glad to be here.

WALLACE: Let's start with the news reports today about your father. The New York Times says, as I know you know, that the vice president wanted even more extensive spying on Americans after 9/11.

You know how Washington works. What do you make of the leaking of this story to try to make General Hayden look good by showing that he stood up to the big bad vice president?

CHENEY: Well, you know, I — the way I look at it is, you know, I'm pretty sure it doesn't come to anybody as a secret that my dad has always taken a hard line when it comes to the war on terror and keeping this country safe.

And you know, whatever internal debates may have been going on, I would want to point out that it's been five years since this country has been hit, and that is not an accident. And before anybody starts questioning what programs have been going on, and before we start debating whether appropriate or not, I would urge caution before we start changing what has been so successful in the past five years.

WALLACE: You say that he takes a hard line on protecting the country.

CHENEY: I think that's a good thing.

WALLACE: I'm not saying it isn't. I would like to ask, and you're not here — and I'm going to get off this very quickly — to talk for your dad, but there's a balance that people are trying to draw here between national security on the one hand and civil liberties on the other. How do you think he draws that balance?

CHENEY: He's always been very clear that, you know, we need to follow the law. We need to make sure that what we're doing is legal. But he also makes it clear that we need to do whatever it takes to keep this country safe.

WALLACE: This gets at the concern that some people have about your dad, who — as you know, his approval ratings are down in the teens. You have said that some people think of him as Darth Vader.

CHENEY: I wish I could take credit for coming up with that term. Somebody else did.

WALLACE: Well, it probably was George Lucas. But anyway, some people have compared him to the Grinch.

What I think bothers people, whether it's justified or not, is a sense that he doesn't have much patience for or much respect for criticism from the press, criticism from congressional critics, that he feels he knows best. How do you think the reality jibes with that perception?

CHENEY: It's not even close. My dad has always been extremely respectful of people who disagree with him. Part of what makes this country so great is that we do have debates and discussions, that we can disagree.

But he also — and he has this great ability to take in, you know, every piece of information before he comes to a decision. But you know, ultimately, he's going to base his decision and his position on what he knows is right and what is in the best interests of this country.

WALLACE: Let's turn to your story.


WALLACE: And I want to start by going back to the 2004 campaign and the vice presidential debate where your father and John Edwards were asked a question about a constitutional amendment on same sex marriage, and John Edwards decided that he would say the following. Let's watch.


JOHN EDWARDS: I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her.


WALLACE: You were sitting in the audience that night in Edwards' line of sight. What did you think and what did you do?

CHENEY: I was in the very front row, and I was very angry, as was the rest of my family, because it was such a cheap and blatant political ploy on behalf of Senator Edwards.

You know, my initial reaction was one I'm not necessarily sure is appropriate to share on television, but...

WALLACE: You mouthed an expletive, correct?

CHENEY: That would be a good way to put it, yes.

WALLACE: And your mom and your sister?

CHENEY: My mom and my sister took a slightly higher road. They stuck their tongues out at him.

WALLACE: And did the senator see the Cheney women?

CHENEY: I honestly don't know. We were in the front row just a few feet from him. I don't see how he could have missed us. But I honestly don't know.

WALLACE: Then in the final presidential debate, the question was whether homosexuality is a choice. Here's what Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said. Let's watch.


JOHN KERRY: I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as.


WALLACE: Why do you think that Kerry and Edwards went out of their way to point out your sexual orientation in the middle of a presidential campaign?

CHENEY: You know, obviously, I was not part of any of John Kerry or John Edwards' debate preps, and I've heard different theories about why they would have done it. I think probably the one that's most believable is that they wanted to make sure that everybody who might have a problem with it knew that Dick Cheney had a gay daughter.

WALLACE: And what do you think of that?

CHENEY: I think it was a pretty sleazy thing to do.

WALLACE: On the other hand, in the midst of the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush also made an issue out of same sex marriage. Let's take a look at what he had to say.


PRESIDENT BUSH: If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.


WALLACE: You say in your book that the president wanted to write discrimination into the constitution.

CHENEY: I think that is what the federal marriage amendment is. It is writing discrimination into the constitution.

WALLACE: So why do you think he was doing it?

CHENEY: I don't want to speak on behalf of President Bush, but I think...

WALLACE: But you were a lot closer to those conversations...

CHENEY: I was.

WALLACE: ... than you were to the Kerry-Edwards ones.

CHENEY: Right. But you know, President Bush obviously feels very strongly about this issue. Obviously, it's one that I disagree with him on, and I talk about it a great deal in the book.

But you know, it was an issue during the 2004 campaign. Quite honestly, it was an issue I had some trouble with, as I talk about in the book. I came very close to quitting my job on the re-election campaign over this very issue.

WALLACE: As you just heard me discuss with Mrs. Bush, Senate Republicans, with the support, perhaps at the urging of Karl Rove, plan to introduce an amendment next month once again, a constitutional amendment, to ban same sex marriage, at least in part, it is said, to mobilize their conservative base.

You talked about what the Democrats did as cheap. In the book you talk about sleazy, slimy politics. Is what the Republicans are engaged in sleazy and slimy politics?

CHENEY: Well, I certainly don't know what conversations have gone on between Karl and anybody up on the Hill. But you know, what I can say is look, amending the constitution with this amendment, this piece of legislation, is a bad piece of legislation. It is writing discrimination into the constitution, and, as I say, it is fundamentally wrong.

Now, I would certainly hope that, you know, and understand, this is an issue that Americans do disagree on and that we do need to debate and discuss. And I would certainly hope that those discussions would continue.

And I would also hope that no one would think about trying to amend the constitution as a political strategy, that people wouldn't try and use amending the constitution to further their own political goals.

WALLACE: Now that you have gone public with this book, if this measure does come up, if there is an effort by Republicans to amend the constitution, will you speak out against it?

CHENEY: I think I just did. I think I just made my position pretty darn clear.

WALLACE: Are you going to continue, though, as it becomes more of a debate this summer?

CHENEY: Whenever people ask me about it, I will give them the exact same answer.

WALLACE: I was on the podium at the 2004 convention and couldn't help but notice that after your father's speech — and you can see the pictures there — there were your mom and dad, there was your sister and her husband Phil, and your, what, four nieces and I guess there's another one.

CHENEY: Yes. Well, actually, it's three nieces. Phillip, the youngest...


CHENEY: ... and then number five is on the way.

WALLACE: Conspicuously absent were you and your partner, Heather. The party platform that year, the party platform that had been adopted by the Republican Party at that convention, came out against gay adoption, against same sex marriage. On gay rights, is the official position of the Republican Party intolerant?

CHENEY: I think what's really important to remember, Chris, is that my job in 2004 — the reason I spent, you know, a year and a half of my life working on the re-election campaign wasn't because of the Republican Party platform. It was because I believed in the leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

It was because I knew how important that election was, how important for the future of this country, for the safety of this country, for the war on terror. That's why I worked on that campaign in 2004. It wasn't because of the Republican Party platform.

WALLACE: I want to talk about the other side of this, because I'm sure there are a lot of viewers out here who, you know, disagree with you very strongly, have their own opinions and are very much opposed to the idea of gay adoption and same sex marriage and all of that.

And I want you to answer that question. I want you to look at this quote from The Weekly Standard. "Once we say that gay couples have a right to have their commitments recognized by the state, it becomes next to impossible to deny the same right to polygamists, polyamorists," which I learned means group marriage, "or even cohabiting relatives and friends."

How do you respond to the slippery slope argument?

CHENEY: It's one that I don't take very seriously. You know, look. What we are talking about are relationships between two consenting adults. I think that is the debate that we need to have. That is the discussion that our country needs to have.

I think it's a mistake for people to start throwing around, you know, polygamy or — incest, I think, was one of the other ones you mentioned. It's a completely different ball of wax.

WALLACE: Finally, when I told people that I was going to be interviewing you, one of the questions I got most often was why now. After you protected your privacy so zealously, why go public at all? And if you were going to do it, why do it at this particular time?

CHENEY: The reason I wrote the book is — well, actually, there's several reasons I wrote the book. One of them is because it has been six years since my dad first was nominated to be vice president.

And during that time, everyone from the media to activists on both ends of the political spectrum, to the Democratic nominee for president have all expressed their opinions about me, and now — well, it's my turn.

WALLACE: Good name for a book.

CHENEY: I thought so.

WALLACE: Mary Cheney, we want to thank you so much for coming in. And good luck with the book.

CHENEY: Thank you very much, Chris.