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Cheney says he felt better after cursing at Leahy

Vice president says senator challenged his integrity


THE MORNING GRIND
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(CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney has said he didn't regret cursing at Sen. Patrick Leahy earlier this week, and said he felt better after the incident.

In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Cheney said he was "forcefully" expressing his unhappiness with the conduct of the Democratic senator from Vermont -- who Cheney said had publicly questioned his integrity, and then wanted to be friendly when he saw him in person.

Sources who related the incident to CNN said the vice president had told Leahy either "f--- off" or "go f--- yourself."

Cheney would not confirm using the word.

"That's not the kind of language I usually use," the vice president said in the interview during a campaign stop in Michigan.

When asked if he had cursed at Leahy, Cheney answered, "Probably."

"Do you have any regrets?," Neil Cavuto asked.

"No. I said it," the vice president responded.

Sources told CNN the encounter Tuesday was brought on by Leahy's recent criticism of the vice president over Halliburton Co. Cheney is the former chief executive officer of the oil field services company, and Democrats have suggested he has helped win lucrative contracts for his former firm while serving in the Bush administration.

"It was partly that, it was partly also ... it had to do with -- he is the kind of individual who will make those kinds of charges and then come act as though he's your best friend, and I expressed in no uncertain terms my views of his conduct and walked away," Cheney said.

"Part of the problem here is that instead of having a substantive debate over important substantive policy issues, he had challenged my integrity, and I didn't like that. But most of all I didn't like the fact that after he'd done so, then he wanted to act like everything was peaches and cream."

Leahy confirmed to CNN on Thursday that Cheney had used profanity in the exchange.

"I think he was just having a bad day," Leahy said, "and I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the [Senate] floor."

David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy, said Friday "It appears the vice president's previous calls for civility are now inoperative."

When asked what the reaction was from senators who overheard the conversation, Cheney said he thought several of his colleagues "felt that what I'd said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue."


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