Cheney's CNN Interview Invokes Old Strategy: Rally The Base

Vice President Cheney's testy interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer earlier this week is still creating a buzz in Washington.

That's because Cheney was so strident and aggressive in condemning critics of the administration's Iraq policy at the same time that President Bush has been trying to sound conciliatory toward his Democratic adversaries. White House insiders say Cheney's remarks were designed to do what he has done many times before--rally the conservative base, where the vice president remains popular, and perhaps increase Bush's poll ratings by boosting his approval among conservatives.

Cheney told CNN that there have been "enormous successes" in Iraq but that the media and other critics "are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure." He also said a nonbinding Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution opposing Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, now making its way to the full Senate, would be "detrimental" to U.S. troops. Cheney declared that Congress "won't stop us" from sending the additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.

"It's a favorite technique of this White House," says a former adviser to a previous Republican president. "When they get into trouble, they send Cheney out to rally the conservative base--and oftentimes blame the media for their problems."

By Kenneth T. Walsh