Cheney Will Speak At GOP Convention

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaks at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Thursday, April 10, 2008, in Washington. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Vice President Dick Cheney, a conservative favorite but a divisive national figure, will join President Bush in addressing delegates on the opening night of the Republican National Convention, the White House said Friday.

There had been doubts about a speech by Cheney, who remains unpopular with most Americans. When asked earlier this week about the vice president's plans to attend the convention, spokeswoman Megan Mitchell left the question open by saying his schedule for September had not been set.

Cheney plans to speak the same Monday night that Bush will address delegates in St. Paul, Minn., Mitchell said Friday. The convention is scheduled for Sept. 1-4, ending with John McCain's nomination.

In a statement, the White House said, "The vice president looks forward to participating in the Republican National Convention and continuing to work for the election of Sen. McCain and other Republican candidates in the coming months."

Democratic candidate Barack Obama has tried to link McCain to Cheney as well as Bush in an effort to portray a McCain administration as a continuation of Bush's. Only 31 percent of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released this week. In June, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showed Cheney viewed positively by just 23 percent.

Still, Cheney is popular with many Republican faithful and remains a behind-the-scenes power broker. The convention provides both Bush and Cheney an opportunity for a valedictory speech to the GOP.

In recent history no sitting vice president has skipped his party's nominating convention, in large part because he has been either re-nominated for vice president or nominated for president. Even the vice presidents who were not part of the GOP national ticket — in 1976 Nelson Rockefeller and in 1952 Alben W. Barkley — addressed delegates.

There are convention no-shows among prominent Republicans. Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who has been indicted on felony charges of concealing gifts and services, has said he won't attend. Nor will Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, all facing tight races for re-election.

Two other senators, Wayne Allard of Colorado and Larry Craig of Idaho, are retiring. Craig pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a sex sting in the bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. Oral arguments before an appeals court, part of Craig's attempt to withdraw the guilty plea, are scheduled for Sept. 10, the week following the convention in neighboring St. Paul.
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