Cheney Would Welcome 2nd Term

Sgt. Michael Simmons of Bethesda. Maryland, with the Alpha Company, 1-18 Combined Arms Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, carries his gear as his unit prepares to turn over their base to the Iraqi security forces in Hurriyah neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, May 28, 2009. In a security agreement with the Iraqi government all US troops must leave Iraqi cities by the June 30th 2009. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
AP Photo/Dusan Vranic
Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday he'd like to serve a second term "if the president's willing and if my wife approves."

Cheney, who has a history of heart trouble, said doctors also would need to give him the go-ahead.

Fielding questions after an economic speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Cheney expressed the same sentiments more than a year ago while announcing that he needed a heart pacemaker. Despite a year of good health reports, Cheney's status for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign continues to be a source of speculation.

"I suppose two people are going to figure very prominently in that decision," Cheney said when asked whether he would be on the ticket. "One is obviously the president. The other is my wife."

Cheney also responded for the first time to public questions over his tenure at Halliburton Co., which is under federal investigation, saying it was a "fine company."

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating accounting practices of Halliburton while Cheney led the oil firm. Hecklers interrupted his speech Wednesday, shouting: "Cheney is a corporate crook."

The vice president, whose former links to corporate America have been a distraction for the Bush administration as it responds to a slew of accounting scandals, said he did not want to face accusations of seeking to influence the probe.

"I have great affection and respect for Halliburton, it's a fine company and I'm pleased that I was associated with the company and with the men and women of Halliburton," Cheney said in response to an audience question about the company. Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000.

The SEC is investigating how Halliburton, an oilfield services firm, accounted for construction cost overruns.

Cheney said serving as vice president has been the high point of his professional life, but he noted that with public service "you become a target."

Referring to the Halliburton probe, Cheney said, "... there are editorial writers all over America poised to put pen to paper and condemn me for exercising undue, improper influence if I say too much about it ..."

President Bush said last month he was confident the SEC probe would find Cheney did nothing wrong, and drew criticism from Democrats that the remarks could taint the investigation.

Even with the downsides of the job, Cheney said he was ready to serve again if Mr. Bush wants him.

"He'll have to make a decision by this time about two years from now when the convention rolls around in terms of deciding who he wants to have serve as his vice president in a second term," Cheney said.

Later, he said, "If the president's willing and if my wife approves and if the doctors say it's OK, then I'd be happy to serve a second term."

Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, said he is feeling fine.

During his speech, several protesters slipped into the hall and disrupted Cheney's remarks about the economy and the war on terrorism.

He stopped and stood silently for several seconds as the women chanted. As Secret Service agents led protesters from the room, Cheney said "Thank you," laughing slightly, and resumed his speech.