Cheney's Super Tuesday Blitz

Bush Pelley, cheney CBS

Vice President Dick Cheney rarely does interviews but on this Super Tuesday, when the Democrats were getting a lot of attention, he did, reports CBS News Correspondent Jennifer Donelan.

"The Democrats have totally distorted the record," Cheney told CBS News, as he made a round of television appearances.

The vice president went on the record on everything from the economy to Iraq to whether or not he's running for re-election – which by the way he is.

"The president has asked me to serve again and I said I'd be happy to do so. So I plan to be on the ticket and we plan to win," the vice president said.

Part of that plan will mean convincing the voters that the Bush administration's tax cuts were good for the economy.

"I think those tax cuts were exactly the right thing to do at the right time," Cheney said, adding that if it were up to John Kerry and John Edwards those policies would not have been pursued the economy "would be in much worse shape today than it is."

The Democratic candidates have made the Bush administration their prime target. The front-runner, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, has taken aim at Cheney, saying the vice president either misspoke or misled the American people about alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Cheney said he relied on the intelligence he had at the time. "If there were gaps between what intelligence reported and what the truth was on the ground, we'll find out," he said.

Cheney also said he supports President Bush's call for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, though one of his daughters is gay and he has said in the past the issue should be left to the states.

"The president's taken the clear position that he supports a constitutional amendment,'' Cheney said in an interview with MSNBC. "I support him."

Cheney said during the 2000 campaign, and again last month, that he prefers to see states handle the issue of gay marriage. His openly lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, is an aide in the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, but the vice president declined to discuss her.

"One of the most unpleasant aspects of this business is the extent of which private lives are intruded upon when these kinds of issues come up," he said. "I really have always considered my private – my daughters' lives private and I think that's the way it ought to remain."

The round of interviews came as a new survey found that Cheney's popularity with the public has dropped in recent weeks.

But the vice president dismissed talk that he has become a liability to President Bush, with Democrats pounding the administration over allegations of profiteering in Iraq by oil services giant Halliburton, which Cheney once headed, as well as his now much-doubted claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I think the fact that you become a lightning rod is, it goes with the turn," he said. "I'm not concerned about that.''

According to the National Annenberg Election Survey, in October, 43 percent of the public had a favorable view and 26 percent had an unfavorable view. In the last two weeks of February, people were about evenly split, with 33 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable.

The vice president's popularity declined with most groups, with the biggest drop among Republicans. Seventy-four percent of Republicans saw him favorably in October and 58 percent viewed him that way in late February. Six in 10 in late February said Mr. Bush should keep Cheney as his running mate, while a quarter said he should pick someone else.

The Annenberg survey in late February of 2,700 people has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points
  • Joel Roberts

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