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Cheney lobbies Armey on Iraq

Meeting described as 'intense'

Vice President Dick Cheney
Vice President Dick Cheney

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney held a half-hour meeting Tuesday with House Majority Leader Dick Armey, trying to persuade the House's No. 2 Republican to support a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Armey, from President Bush's home state of Texas, has been one of the few high-profile Republican voices expressing doubts about U.S. military action to oust the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

A spokesman for Armey said the majority leader characterized the session as "intense." The meeting, which an Armey aide said was requested by the White House, was scheduled to last only 20 minutes but went about 10 minutes longer.

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Armey said the decision to send Cheney was a testament to Bush's level of commitment to his Iraq policy. Armey has also asked to meet with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CIA Director George Tenet, but those meetings have not yet been scheduled.

"I know a lot more than I did when I first spoke out in March. But I still remain the hardest sell," he told reporters.

"I have never had a question in my mind that Saddam Hussein is truly evil with evil intent. The question I have is, 'What assets does he have, and what is his ability to deploy those assets?' That's the information I'm seeking," he said.

Asked whether he thinks it is important for the United States to obtain U.N. backing for a military strike, he said, "Is it better to have more people in the school yard to take on the bully? Of course."

Despite the high-level briefings, Armey said he doesn't feel "lobbied heavily."

"I don't take to lobbying," he said.

Before going into the meeting, Armey indicated that he would most likely not make a decision on supporting the resolution until hours before the vote. He followed a similar strategy in 1991 during a congressional vote on a resolution authorizing the Gulf War.

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