Cheney: Senate Resolution "Won't Stop Us"

Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at a business luncheon, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006, in Cincinnati. AP

The White House reaction to the Senate resolution opposing President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq came from Vice President Dick Cheney. In a word, he was defiant, saying about the general idea of a resolution, "It won't stop us."

"We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings. They have the right, obviously, if they want, to cut off funding," Cheney said Wednesday in an occasionally testy CNN interview.

"But in terms of this effort, the president has made his decision. We've consulted extensively with them. We'll continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done."

If the president was almost humbly pleading with Congress in Tuesday's State of the Union address to give his plan a chance, CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod says the vice president played what has come to be his typical role: the enforcer.

He dismissed suggestions that the Bush administration's credibility is on the line because of mistakes in Iraq as "hogwash."

And he railed at critics for not coming up with a plan of their own for Iraq.

"The critics have not suggested a policy — they haven't put anything in place," Cheney said. "All they've recommended is to redeploy or to withdraw our forces. The fact is, we can complete the task in Iraq. We're going to do it. We've got (Lt. Gen. David) Petraeus — Gen. Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task."

Cheney acknowledged the situation in Iraq was very unstable but said toppling Saddam Hussein had been the right thing to do. He said he trusted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who he said had demonstrated a willingness to take on lawbreakers regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliations.

The vice president said the biggest mistake the United States has made in the war was underestimating the psychological effect Saddam's regime had on Iraqi citizens.

"I think we underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness," he said. "It was very hard for them to stand up and take responsibility in part because anybody who had done that in the past had had their heads chopped off."

Asked about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, Cheney said he believes bin Laden is alive, but would not speculate about whether he might be hiding in Afghanistan, Pakistan or along their shared border. "I don't want to be that precise," Cheney said.

On other topics, the vice president said he does not think Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would make a very good president "because she's a Democrat."

"I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint," he said.

Cheney bristled when asked to respond to critics who question his daughter Mary's decision to have a baby and raise it with her female partner. "I think you're out of line with that question," replied Cheney, who said he was delighted about having a sixth grandchild.
  • Joel Roberts

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