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CBS 11 Exclusive: Former VP Dick Cheney Talks Heart Disease & Politics

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Before a crowd of 1,200 people at the Dallas Go-Red for Women fundraiser, Dick Cheney, his wife Lynne, and his doctor spoke about the former Vice-President's three-decade battle with heart disease.

During our exclusive interview the former Vice-President, who served under President George W. Bush, said he was near death in 2010 until he received a heart pump, and then a heart transplant in 2012.

Mr. Cheney said, "I haven't felt this good in years."

The former Vice-President's recent book dropped a bombshell revelation. In it, he said when he received a new defibrillator in 2007, they removed the wireless function that allows doctors to monitor the heart remotely.

"We were concerned if that feature was involved in my defibrillator, working a rope line or a crowd some place, I was potentially vulnerable to somebody trying to hack into it."

When asked if President Bush knew at the time, Mr. Cheney said, "I don't believe he did, hadn't thought about it."

Unlike his former boss, the former Vice-President still likes to talk about public issues. He supports the NSA's controversial program of collecting and tracking people's cell phone numbers and internet activity in an effort to find terrorists.

"I think it is absolutely essential," he said. "We set it up. I was involved intimately in getting it set up initially in the week after 9/11.  It's a very good program and ought to be protected. We should not do something stupid just for the sake of public opinion at the moment."

The former Vice-President believes Republicans will regain the Senate and keep the House this November and downplayed the struggle between Tea Party conservatives and establishment Republicans.

Mr. Cheney said, "Having that struggle in the party I think basically strengthens it.  We've got to come to agreement within the party in terms of what we believe in, what our core principles are."

The former Vice-President says it would be a mistake for Tea Party members to leave the Republican Party.

On foreign policy, Mr. Cheney criticized the recent international deal easing economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for its promise not to develop nuclear weapons.

"I'm not at all impressed with the negotiations that the administration has been carrying on," he said plainly. "The sanctions were beginning to have an impact, but now they've already started lifting the sanctions, and the Iranians have really done nothing in return in terms of giving up capability."

Mr. Cheney said he loved being back in the Dallas area, though his wife Lynne said she didn't recognize the cold, snowy weather.

Before running for Vice-President, The Cheney's lived in Highland Park for five years while he was CEO of Halliburton.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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