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Samuel: Cheney Brings 'Gravitas' to Bush Ticket

Aired July 25, 2000 - 6:31 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: The man heading Republican George W. Bush's search for a running mate didn't have to look very far. Republican sources say Bush will ask Dick Cheney to occupy the slot they've been working together to fill. Cheney served as secretary of defense for Bush's father and was also a long-time Wyoming congressman. His voting record as a congressman may come under attack by Democrats as being too conservative. Among the things he voted against a federal funding for abortions and a Head Start program.

So what does America think about Cheney as the Republican vice presidential candidate? Well, a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll set out to answer the question last night, only 14 percent of those responding said they would be more likely to vote for Bush because of Cheney; 10 percent said they would be less likely; and most respondents said Cheney would have no effect on how they vote.

Bush has said his choice for vice president would be exciting, but the majority of voters questioned last night said they were not excited by the choice of Cheney.

And for more on the prospect of a Bush/Cheney ticket, we are joined on the phone by Terrence Samuel, a senior editor from "U.S. News & World Report."

Mr. Samuel, thank you for being with us, and I'm hoping you can tell us what you think Dick Cheney will bring to the Bush campaign.

TERRENCE SAMUEL, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, I think, very clearly, what Cheney brings is a certain, you'll hear this read over and over again, gravitas. I think Governor Bush looked at the landscape and, for a governor who is in his second term without any Washington or foreign policy experience to speak of, Dick Cheney solved the problem that he had, in that this is a man who has served long and very well, in terms of the foreign policy areas as secretary of defense, and certainly a man who's respected as having understood a lot of the world.

STOUFFER: Mr. Samuel, we showed the result of last night's poll and Bush is really getting no bounce from the Cheney choice. Cheney doesn't deliver Bush any key state with a real payoff in electoral vote. So what do you make of all that?

SAMUEL: Well, I think the governor has said all along, and he's not been coy about this, is that the two things he looked for in a vice presidential pick would be somebody who could be president. I don't think there are very many people who would deny that Dick Cheney's experience certainly answers that question, and somebody who is loyal, and somebody with whom the governor was comfortable.

Having chosen him to run the most difficult task that he needed, finding a vice-presidential candidate, I think the governor had already chosen his vice president by the point that he had chosen somebody to find him one.

STOUFFER: And Mr. Samuel, what does the Cheney pick mean to Al Gore and the Gore campaign?

SAMUEL: I think probably, on some level, the Gore campaign may be relieved, in that it doesn't to force them to fight a political battle in any particular state, the way, say, a Tom Ridge would have complicated their lives in Pennsylvania.

And I think it allows Gore to deal with his own problems, his own deficits, so to speak, in looking for somebody to deal with what Al Gore needs to deal with. Such as, for example, his need to separate himself from the president, his need to establish his identity separately from President Clinton, his need to portray himself as a straight talker. So I think the Cheney pick allowed Gore to go his own way without worrying too much about what the governor has done.

STOUFFER: Terrence Samuel, with "U.S. News & World Report," thank you very much. A lot will happen between now and November. And again, George W. Bush is expected to name Cheney as his V pick today, V.P. pick, rather, today.

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